Local Youths Ready for a Puzzlehunt Adventure at USA

Posted on January 1, 2020 by Joy Washington
Joy Washington

Solve puzzles! Break codes! Roam the USA campus!

These intriguing options will be available to area middle and high school math students on Jan. 25 at the University of South Alabama, when South hosts MaPP Challenge 2020.

The puzzlehunt, team-based, mathematics problem-solving event will be held from 10 a.m.-2:45 p.m. starting at “Game Control Central,” otherwise known as Room 170 in the Humanities Building. The event will be for students in grades 7-12, and they will participate in the challenge throughout the campus near University Boulevard, USA North Drive and USA South Drive. The MaPP Challenge registration is now open.

“This is the fourth year that this event has been held at South,” said Dr. Steven Clontz, assistant professor of mathematics, puzzle designer and co-founder of the MaPP Challenge. MaPP stands for Mathematical Puzzle Programs. “While I was in graduate school, one of my friends and I connected and decided we would create this fun and educational math problem-solving event. I had been involved in puzzle hunts as a hobby. We came together to give kids a more visceral experience through this problem-solving experience.”

The fee for participating is $100 for the first team of 6-8 students and $50 for each additional team, which includes up to three total teams. This fee covers the cost of all activities and includes a catered lunch and snacks for participants. Scholarships are available if needed for financial support. Please contact Kristal Webb for more information at kwebb@southalabama.edu.

Clontz said when the students arrive for the event, they will pick up their packet of puzzles and start the challenge. The student players will be inspired by the opening puzzle, which will provide clues for them to move around campus to search for the remaining puzzles. They will be presented with several main, bonus, cryptic, Meta and other puzzles. 

“This year we hope to increase to more than 100 students competing,” Clontz said. “Students will be running all across South’s campus looking for clues. Each team will use their GPS on their smartphones. They will also use the ClueKeeper app, which will assist the teams in receiving the clues and other information during the MaPP Challenge.

“This team-based competition emphasizes collaboration and communication,” Clontz added. “The MaPP Challenge affords students who are sitting at a table or desk to get up and learn mathematics in a different environment. The event was very successful last year, and we are looking forward to another unique learning experience for the students.”

University campuses in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, Missouri, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Connecticut run MaPP Challenge events with 415 youths being served around the country. 

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