Maze Design 2013: The clock is ticking, so it’s time to engage in some useful procrastination as I sit down to do the maze design…
Part of the brainstorming process for maze design is in free-associating with ideas and images until some kind of coherent, useful theme coalesces out of the maelstrom. Here are some thoughts that have made it onto one list or another and I found in my maze design folder:
optical illusions; spiders; webs; carousels; gardens;trees; snakes (coiled, see Navaho sand paintings); maps; compass rose; DNA; life sciences–animals/insects/plants/viruses/bacteria/prions
Les Caux cave paintings; drones (as in UAVs); Platonic solids; triangles; three-dimensional designs; exploded views; snake eating its tail; Galapagos tortoises; moon; Singularity; sphere; torus; visual paradoxes;
Map of prime numbers; crop circles; hawk/eagle; unicorn; badger; bees/beehive; octopus; owls; tapestries; planets; solar systems/galaxies
Any ideas? Let me know…
I think that the thing that Alan and I love most about our corn maze is the process of creation–all of it, from brainstorming and sketching, to actual design, and then to the task of carving it into the corn field. This year, we’ve partnered with the Center for Engagement in Madison WI , to turn our incredibly fun but private process into something that can be actually experienced by young people: the very first “Maze Mania” summer camp.
The camp will consist of twelve kids and three teachers, and their task will be to work with Alan and I as they learn the maze design and cutting process. And it’s not easy work: they’ll be challenged to come up with a design (for the Children’s Maze) that meets very specific parameters, and part of the camp is spent actually cutting the maze into the cornfield on a (probably) hot summer day.
For me, the camp is about sharing the joyfulness of math and design art and seeing a project through from the beginning to completion. I spend a good week designing the big maze, and Alan spends another week cutting it, so in early summer we just living and breathing the maze 24/7. It’s pretty intense, but fun. It’s not often that a real-world business has a process like this that is both interesting and accessible to young people, so we are eager to share the experience.
Last night our corn maze was featured on the Tonight Show during Jay Leno’s monologue–check out this video (at 1:20) to see our maze! (Of course, we missed it because it was past our bedtime…)
This week is our first Math Day at the Maze. We’ve got almost 450 kids ready to learn about how we make the maze and the math concepts we’ve incorporated. We will also have hands-on stations, presented by the Wisconsin Mathematics Council. Dave Ebert, the president, has put together a team of math students who will run stations for the younger students. We’re pretty excited–it will be a lot of fun. It’s a lot of kids (we did have to turn some away) but we’ve got lots of activities to keep everyone busy.
TREINEN FARM PUMPKIN WHOOPIE PIES (If you aren’t sure what a Whoopie Pie is, you definitely need to try this recipe)
We would make this all the time in the fall if we had any time to cook…
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 3/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin , canned or fresh
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 stick butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 egg white
- 1 TBS milk
Simple Instructions (if you need more in-depth how-to, ask your mother or someone who knows how to cook…)
- Mix the brown sugar, eggs, butter, vanilla and pumpkin together.
- Mix all the other stuff together separately, then combine with the above.
- Don’t mix too much or they’ll be tough (who knows why? not me.)
- Drop by tablespoons onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.
- FILLING: Mix all the ingredients together, whipping it up until everything stops separating and looks fluffy.
- When the cookies are cool, put filling in between two so they are like Oreos.
- Eat all of them, or at least until you feel sick (that’s what I’ve always done…)
We always like to include multiple layers of meaning within our corn maze. We like to have an aesthetically pleasing image that is fairly easily recognizable (this year it’s da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” aka “that guy, you know, the one in the circle with this arms out like this <insert realistic demo of arms outstretched here>, yeah, that guy”. However, our da Vinci guy is a cyborg–note the ray gun hand and the mechanical wing, not to mention the assorted gears for joints and a clockwork heart.
Cyborg guy is shown not in a circle/square deal like da Vinci’s, but in the planar projection of a hypercube (aka a “tesseract”, aka “what are you talking about?”) So, a hypercube is like this: you know what a square is, right? Okay, now a cube is just a three-dimensional square. Still with me? A hypercube is simply a four-dimensional cube. ( Here’s a little more technical explanation.) Very cool.
The gears are a nod to mechanical technology, especially the steam-era –aka Steampunk, which is also cool. We’ve got a little circuit-boardy stuff filling in the spaces on the lower right and mid-left.
The knot-like thing in the lower left is, well, a knot, because knots are mathematically interesting. It’s made out of a carbon nanotube, which leads us into the fascinating world of nanotechnology.
The theme this year is technology, ranging from the awesomeness of da Vinci to the steam-era, all the way to modern math and tech. Specifically the “GRIN” technologies: genetics (umm, because the cyborg is also genetically-modified–yeah, that’s it…); robotics (again, cyborg guy sort of counts); information tech (circuit boards); and nanotech, as previously noted (plus the weaponized nanoswarms employed in patrolling the maze for people cutting through the corn…)
More info and links to come on all of these elements.
Rex and I headed out to check on the maze–just wanted to see if 1) the corn was tall enough (yes);
2) Alan’s work cutting it was up to its usual standards (yes);
3) If I would get lost (yes). All very good signs!