"Flowers for Algernon" Team Challenge #3: Maze Race
To wrap up your Team Charlie versus Team Algernon challenges, this maze activity with not only be exciting, but will be a great way to illustrate the frustrations that Charlie felt each time he lost his maze race to Algernon. The first step in this activity will be finding a series of easy to moderately difficult mazes to copy for your challenge. The site www.krazydad.com has TONS of printable mazes to choose from, and will be perfect for this competition. After selecting five different mazes to print, enlarge them to a size 11x17 paper size and print two sets of the mazes. You need to create a set for Team Algernon and a set for Team Charlie. This competition isn't just for fun, but will also enable students to sympathize with Charlie's frustrations in the story, "Flowers for Algernon". Before beginning the competition, ask the students to gather with their teams and find in the text Charlie's reactions after the first race with Algernon. Ask them to find out how Charlie felt when he lost to Algernon and to come up with two descriptive words to describe Charlie's mood. Have them go back to the race that occurred after Charlie's operation. Why was the pressure for Charlie to win even greater than it was before the operation? What new emotions does Charlie express now that he's had the surgery and Algernon is still beating him. Give the students a few minutes to discuss and then have each team share their thoughts and discoveries to the class. After discussing the questions, explain the last challenge to the teams, and then follow the instructions below:
The Competition Set-Up:
- Place two desks at the front of the room. Designate a desk for each team.
- Put the same maze on each desk, but with the maze side of the paper facing down.
- Instruct each team to designate a racer.
- Tell the racers that when you say "Go", they are to flip over the maze and race to complete it.
- You will be timing them, so borrow a stop watch or go to http://www.online-stopwatch.com/ to display the timer on your projector (if you have one). Seeing the timer will increase the competitive mood of the room!
- Repeat the process four more times. The team with the most "wins" is the victor in the Team Charlie vs. Team Algernon Maze Competition!
After the Maze Race
Have the teams return to their seats to reflect upon the entire competition. Ask students, "What emotions did you feel, knowing your were being timed during the maze and that your teammates were depending on you? Can you relate to Charlie's frustrations in 'Flowers for Algernon'?" I usually have students write a four to five sentence reflective paragraph, but you might want to turn the assignment in to a longer essay.