Mind aMazes


Each year, the KPBSD gifted education KPBSD Quest program coordinates an annual engineering and problem solving challenge called Mind A-Mazes. This challenge brings teams of students from around the peninsula to a district meet in October where students share constructed devices with judges and attempt to earn points for a set of predetermined tasks.

The 2018 long-term challenge, which students had about five weeks to work on at their schools and homes, was Marvelous Machines. With this challenge, teams designed, built, and tested devices that would attempt to complete a variety of tasks utilizing simple machines. Tasks included things such as ringing a bell, raising an object at least five centimeters, and popping an inflated glove. These chain-reaction machines could not use battery or motor power, and could only be triggered one time for judges at the meet. For each task completed by a simple machine in their chain-reaction device, a team would earn points. In addition, time bonus points were awarded for devices that stretched out the attempted tasks over an extended period of bonus seconds.


The district meet also included a Spontaneous Challenge, which required teams to improvise a solution to a 15-minute challenge where each team used identical materials. The 2018 Jump Rope challenge had teams attempt to build a rope (with a simple assortment of provided materials) which would earn points for length and for how many successful jumps could be completed before the rope broke.

The Mind A-Mazes challenge focuses on teamwork, communication, and problem solving—key aspects of the project. Students work on sharing their ideas with others, listening to others, trouble-shooting problems that arise, invest hours to test and modify, striving for consistency, and having fun throughout the process! This year’s challenge was a difficult one for many teams, but the wide assortment of devices, teams from around the peninsula, and positive encouragement made the October 13, 2018, event at Soldotna Prep School a great success for all who participated. A big thank you to all the Quest teachers, parents, volunteers, judges, and students who helped make this year’s “Mind A-Mazes” happen.


The award winners for this year’s “Mind A-Mazes” include:

Junior Division:

1st place overall – “Pickle Potamuses” West Homer; 2nd place overall – “Team Snowcones” Soldotna Elementary; 3rd place overall – “Divide and Conquer” Soldotna Montessori

*Spontaneous Winner: “Team Jeff” KMS; *Judges Choice – “SMART” – Seward Elementary


Intermediate Division:

1st place overall – “Shadow Banananas” Seward Middle; 2nd place overall – “Ghostbusters” Seward Middle; 3rd place overall – “Flower Power” Nikiski Middle/High

*Spontaneous Winner – “Shadow Banananas” Seward Middle; *Judges Choice – “S.O.S.” Nikiski Middle-High School


Thank you to Brian Bailey, Mind aMazes organizer, for this story recap of the 2018 event