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Real World Math: Exploratory Lessons - Mazes & Labyrinths

True to form, there are a number of paths that can be followed when studying mazes and labyrinths.

This lesson is mostly left for the teacher to devise, but it could be used as Project Based Learning since several days of activities can be devoted to this topic.  Many children and adults are fascinated by mazes and labyrinths.  There is obviously some geometry involved in these creations but most enjoy people enjoy them for the aesthetic qualities.  The more you or your students want to learn about mazes and labyrinths depends on how hard you want to scratch.

The Google Earth file attached to this lesson is simply a collection of 50 labyrinths and mazes from around the world that are visible from the air.  Consider it a resource for you to use and share with your class.  It isn’t necessary to use all 50 placemarks, so edit as you wish.

History of Mazes and Labyrinths (link) by Jo Edkins is an excellent web resource to use.  The history normally associated with the labyrinth is the myth of Theseus and Minotaur, but the design has evolved continuously to the present day.  This site gives mazes and labyrinths a classification: Cretan, Roman, and Chartres.  One activity with the Google Earth file would be to have students create their own classifications of the maze placemarks, perhaps by placing them in folders annotated with descriptive qualities.

An excellent follow-up is having students draw the classic labyrinth design on paper.  See this link for instructions on how to draw a maze.  Additionally, the students can make a computer generated maze that can be printed.  See this link.

The upper grades can take a more analytical look at mazes and labyrinths with this link.  In his website Think Labyrinth!, Walter D. Pullen gives a thorough listing of algorithms that can be used to create and solve mazes.

Note: If you play the “Tour” of the folder, make sure your settings allow enough time for each view to load.

Objectives

• Classify mazes and labyrinths
• Draw a classical Cretan labyrinth
• Design a maze or labyrinth
• Create sets

More mazes

Math Topics
Geometry, Symmetry
Social Studies Topics
Geography
K-6, Middle School, High School, Educator

Real World Math

Lesson Plan