Requires Batteries: No
Publisher: Turing Tumble LLC
Turing Tumble is an introduction to computational thinking that was born on Kickstarter. It consists of a white board on a stand, a ton of red and blue marbles, a small plastic key, and six kinds of ramps and bits. The basic idea is that players place the ramps and bits on the board to program a path for the marbles from the top of the board down to the bottom. The key is used to help determine which color marble falls first. It’s easy to learn, challenging to master, and really fun once you’ve got the hang of it.
The game also comes with a 100-page booklet that serves as instructions, provides challenges, and tells the story of Alia, the girl on the box cover, as she explores an alien maze and makes an unexpected friend. It helps that the booklet is broken up like an RPG campaign or a video game: Alia’s story is the ‘cinematic’ scene between levels.
Turing Tumble is really good at introducing players to things like pattern recognition, designing based on trial and error, and breaking up big problems into smaller, sequential ones. It’s meant for players 8 and up and runs best as a single-player game, but I’ve seen smaller children trying it out under supervision and it can also be played with a group.
Its main flaw is that the marbles are small, easy to lose, and can be difficult to collect and put in place. The board doesn’t come with something like a tray to catch them if they bounce free, and gravity can make things a little unpredictable at times. With so many losable pieces and a price tag of $64.95, it may be a little too expensive and breakable for some libraries and schools.
All in all, we recommend Turing Tumble as a fun way to teach kids computational thinking. It’s not too shabby for the adults either.
Article by Ben Blythe
Ben can be found on Twitter @FlailingWriter. He's also got a blog on WordPress. And he even reviews things on GoodReads!
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