“There literally are millions of different
ways of putting it all together,” says Roy, who has a degree in recreation and
has worked in coaching and camping.
He envisions the mobile maze as a fun
apparatus that also teaches important lessons.
“I really want to produce opportunities for
children to learn that they can enjoy things, that they can accomplish things,”
Challenging the tunnel can help a child to
build confidence. It also exercises the spatial-reasoning parts of the brain.
The tunnels and mazes can turn the tables in gym class, giving small students an
edge over the big, muscular athletes.
The idea started off as a hand-held wooden
puzzle. Roy made a small box out of balsa wood with moveable panels inside.
The idea behind the box was to go through some mental exercise by maneuvering a
ball bearing through the hand-held maze.
“Then I though , ‘What would this be like it
it was life size?’”
He make his first version of the Mobile
Spelunking System out of plywood and let a summer camp try it out. It has been
tested at the camp for two years, he says, “and it’s still a hit.”
Once he has his first model complete, he met
with Bairdmore School principal Janice Low and three of her staff,
including phys ed teacher Darrel Dyck, and with Ryerson School principal
Val Burch and phys ed teacher Wayne Scantlebury.
Whatever skepticism there may have been in
the first discussion vanished when teachers saw children crawling through the
tunnels and running back into line for more. Teachers even ventured into the
tunnel. “It exceeded my expectations,” says Roy.
The test run with leadership students at
Fort Richmond gave the inventor a chance to see how older kids respond to a more
“It was so much fun,” said Richa Tandon,
one of the first Fort Richmond students to try the maze. Tandon, the smallest
member of her team, helped guide taller teammates through the maze in a
Teammate Krysten Leroux sees the
Mobile Spelunking System as a potential hit: “I could picture it at kids’
The test runs at the schools are helping
prepare the product for the marketplace. Roy expects to sell the full
eight-foot-cube version to schools and camps for about $7,500, as well as
producing a smaller and less expensive version for back yard use.
He’s looking forward to launching the
product in the marketplace, but to the inventor it’s already been a success.
“I’m a bit of a kid at heart,” he says.
“It was fun putting it together and fun seeing the kids go through it.”