Raid the Recycling Bin for This A-maze-ing Activity

This one's fun for families to do together.

Parker Barry

Elizabeth Rood, Vice President of Education Strategy, Bay Area Discovery Museum & Director, Center for Childhood Creativity

badm_logoKids and families can design a tabletop maze using materials from the household recycling bin. The maze will be grounds for a ping-pong ball race. The movement of the ping-pong balls will be powered by air blown through straws!

What You’ll Need

  • drinking straws (enough for each participant to have one)
  • 2 ping-pong balls
  • large base for your maze to be built on (a large flat piece of cardboard or foam core are good choices)
  • materials to repurpose such as coffee cup sleeves, cardboard, cereal boxes or paper tubes
  • paper-backed tape such as masking tape, artist’s tape or painter’s tape
  • scissors or an X-Acto knife
  • aluminum foil and pipe cleaners (optional)

1. Plan your maze

It’s time to start planning your maze. Will you sketch it out in advance or dive right in and start adding materials to your base? That’s up to you and your design team. Make sure to choose a start and a finish. The start and finish must be on the base of your maze.

2. Build in twists and turns

Use as many different materials as you can to create as many twists, turns and obstacles as you can in your ping-pong ball maze. Be sure to make your paths wide enough for a ping-pong ball to travel through! There’s no height limit for the paths in your maze.


3. Test the maze

Push your ball along by blowing air through a straw to make the ball move. Blow your ball from start to finish. We’re finished!

4. Have fun with your maze

Time yourself or a friend as you race against the clock to move your ball from start to finish. Have one participant begin at the start and the other begin at the finish line. Choose a mutually agreed upon midpoint and race to be the first to reach that point. Careful not to crack a smile! Blowing through a straw is nearly impossible when smiling or laughing. Make changes and improvements to your maze. Take your maze apart and build another one!

Elizabeth is Vice President of Education Strategy for Bay Area Discovery Museum and Director of the Center for Childhood Creativity. She is a teacher, mom of a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old, and an Ed.D. leader committed to life-long, purposeful learning for all. Photos courtesy of Bay Area Discovery Museum.


Related stories