A few years ago I had a great idea about having students complete a STEM Challenge to create mazes from boxes and paper. I thought they would like to design these, but I was wrong. They LOVED it!
It never occurred to me they would enjoy mazes so much, but they really do. They try so hard to make all the paths work and have dead ends. Their mazes are also decorated so creatively. Since this is such a fabulous project we have tried this challenge many times and in different ways.
The three styles of mazes we complete every year are:
- Paper Mazes
- Straw Mazes
- Plate Mazes
- BONUS: Escape the Maze No -Locks Escape Room
The materials we use for the mazes cause them to turn out differently and we have tried some variations of these. I will add some links at the end of this post to share other things we have tried!
Marble Mazes STEM Challenge
The paper marble maze is the one we tried first many years ago. I used gift boxes as the maze bottom. Some kind of box is a good idea- a gift box, a soft drink flat, or the lid to the boxes of copy paper. The size of these boxes is a good one for a maze and it’s also a way to keep up with the marble or able as it travels through the maze.
After trying this maze a few times we have discovered that card stock works great and we have also learned how to fold the edges to make the maze walls.
We usually fold the paper in an ‘L’ shape and this makes a wall and a surface that can be taped to the floor of your box. By joining many of these ‘L’ shapes together you can create longer paths and paths that turn.
I did have some students one day that didn’t like working inside the box and they asked if they could cut the corners of the box to open it out flat. They made all the walls of their maze and when it was finished they lifted the edges of the box and taped them back together.TIP: Pre-cut the strips of card stock with your paper cutter. You can have students do this, but I have found that they cut the paper too narrow and it does get wasted.
Straw Mazes STEM Challenge
This variation of the maze turned out to be really fun for my younger students. We call it a straw maze!
We use a piece of foam board as the base of the maze and the walls are entirely made of straws.
We use clear tape to hold the straws in place. Above you can see the bendy part of the pink straw. I found straws at Dollar Tree one day that had a very long flexible part and they worked great to make curves in our mazes.
I also really liked the black foam board as the maze base.
TIP: Buy foam board at Dollar Tree if you can. It’s obviously only a dollar and they have white and black. Foam board at Wal Mart or Target costs a lot more!
Plate Mazes STEM Challenge
This version of a maze is one we tried most recently. I gave each team a large heavy-duty paper plate and half sheets of many colors of copy paper. They had to make the obstructions in the paths of the maze and also a clear path that a marble could follow. They loved these and really worked hard to be creative!
We added straws to the materials for this version of the maze. Students mentioned that the marble kept getting away and they needed a ‘bumper’. When I heard this I thought it was a great idea and I grabbed a bag of straw pieces I had saved. These made perfect bumpers for the marble to hit in order to stay on its path.
Are you ready for the ultimate maze resource?
The Scenario: The team has entered a human-size maze (it’s pretend). The maze is actually on paper and they trace their path through as they complete the tasks.
In the maze, teams find their path is blocked by a “lock”. To open the lock a task must be completed. When the task is completed they receive a math problem. The math problem answer “unlocks” that portion of the maze and they proceed.
- Letter maze
- Pattern maze
- Secret Code
- Word search that has synonyms for the word AMAZE
Students can advance on their paper maze when they have a correct answer for each task. Best of all: This Escape Room has the paper plate STEM Challenge included!
Which type of maze will you try?
LINKS to Maze Variations and More Posts:
- Paper Plate Mazes
- Marble Mazes
- Straw Mazes
- Escape the Maze No-Locks Escape
- The Top 5 Questions I am Asked
- Five Things Not to Do in STEM
- Time Crunch Tips for STEM