Obsessed with mazes
My kids are obsessed with mazes. I don’t know why, but they are. I secretly like it, as it has a few benefits: it trains their problem solving skills (and their patience – ha ha!)!
It got even better: I made them a few mazes (very simple ones) and they started to copy me, drawing mazes themselves! I did not have to explain anything (although, in hindsight, they could have done with a strategy), they just started to draw.
I loved this even more: they used their skills to *create* a problem for me to solve! Now that’s fostering problem-solving skills! And fun!
How to make a maze
Right, making a maze. How do you start? A maze is a network of complex passages with only one single escape route. The object is to find this route. There is a whole mathematical reasoning behind maze design (and I suspect there’s even a friendly geek community hiding somewhere organising maze conventions). If you’re interested, by all means, pay a visit to these website, where maze theory, maze design and algorithms are explained. It’s pretty interesting, but we’re starting at ‘entry level’.
Start by making a wide shape. Any shape will work, as long as there is enough space to accommodate lines to actually create a maze ; )
Draw another shape inside. To start, simply offset the original drawing (I think that looks best), but leave a few gaps. You understand why.. (Later, after designing your first maze, you can introduce different sections here to increase the complexity of the maze).
Repeat this process: add a few ‘onion rings’ with gaps.
Right, the fun part: draw the solution. Use a pencil (for obvious reasons) and press as lightly as you can, to make a thin visible line that you can erase later. We don’t want to make it too easy for our kids, right?
Now, have a good look at the solution and close any alternative paths. Take your time for this, making sure there are no shortcuts. A perfect maze has only one solution.
Well done, your first maze!
OK, so that was simple. You can add complexity by dividing the outer shape into sections, and create mazes within mazes. Or you can connect mazes one-after-the-other.
The seriously maze-obsessed must be upset by my simple take on mazes. I hear you, but it’s beyond the scope of this blog to go into detail. This is just an introduction to mazes, a ‘teaser’ if you will. But I’m happy to direct you to the more serious and challenging side of maze mathematics, algorithms and programming. Find instructions, theory, design, explanations and brilliant examples (I hear your sigh of relief).