My group went to Barrow Elementary on March 22nd for Makerspace in the media center. Today we had students construct their own straw mazes. They used materials like straws, tape, pencils, and paper. The paper served as the base or board for the straw maze. The main materials used are the straws, which are cut and placed according to the students’ idea of their maze. Some students had to begin by drawing a sketch of where the straws will be placed, while some students visually had an idea in their head and went straight into placing straws down. Other students pre-cut all of their straws and knew exactly where they would place them, while others had to imagine and plan a little bit more. It is very interesting to me to see how each individual student thinks and learns.
The kids were so excited to be doing straw mazes today! They enjoyed seeing the examples of previously-made straw mazes, but some students simply copied the examples. Many of the students didn’t have time to finish, so my group members ended up helping them tear tape in order to give them more time to build. I noticed that the younger-aged students built a maze on one sheet of paper, while the older students had more elaborate, two-page mazes. For example, one older student made a straw maze pretty quickly, and then made another that would be more of a challenge. I loved seeing that!
A few of us went around and asked students about their mazes and they explained with such excitement and creativity. Some would border the base first, and some would do a design based on a particular shape. The kids also enjoyed testing out other student’s mazes. If there was a section that was too thin for the marble, students would improve their mazes. They each voiced their imagination, better explained their plans, or visually showed us their creation. This hands-on STEM activity challenged students to using problem solving and creativity, while also using the engineering design process.
Overall, this activity has been my favorite so far at Barrow. The students loved to invent and tinker using only a few materials given. The directions weren’t difficult for the student to understand, and most importantly, the kids seemed to be having a lot of fun. I definitely will save this easy-to-setup activity for my future classroom and also have students do lab tests based on how their marble test with the maze they built.