Several months ago, a video caught my attention on Instagram. It was a fascinating educational toy for kids that featured tiny marbles being “handed” down a track through a series of switches. Besides being interesting to watch, I could tell that the Turing Tumble was a toy that would develop higher-level thinking in kids.
Well, we were given the opportunity to review our own Turing Tumble, and I’m so excited to tell you about it! This is a fantastic product that I would highly recommend.
Computer programming – in a hands-on way without a computer!
The Turing Tumble provides a way for kids to learn about programming, but without a computer. It basically IS a computer – one that is powered by marbles!
Kids are introduced to programming challenges through the colorful project book that accompanies the Turing Tumble. The goal of each project is to move colored marbles from the top of the board to the bottom, but in a specific color pattern. For example, you might want to make the output blue-red-blue-red as shown in the photo above.
The black pieces near the bottom of the board are connected to the marble releases at the top of the board with rods on the back of the board. So the action of a marble dropping down and pushing on either of the black rods releases the next marble from the top. Once the marble machine is in motion, it will keep releasing marbles one at a time until all the marbles from the top have been released. Kids can check and see – does the pattern at the bottom match the pattern I was trying to create?
The Turing Tumble is highly engaging for kids ages 8 and up. And when I say “and up,” I mean anyone older than 8! My 15 year old has really enjoyed this, and it’s fun (and challenging) for me as well.
One thing that makes it so fun is the project book.
The project book tells the adventure story of Alia, a computer engineer who is stranded on a forgotten planet. Her story gives a purpose to the Turing Tumble puzzles and helps kids understand this different components of the Turing Tumble computer board.
Each puzzle tells kids what they are trying to accomplish (the output they should get), which pieces to start with (and their positions on the board), and how many pieces to add. Then the students must decide where to add the additional pieces so that their computer program works!
The Turing Tumble is perfect both for home or classroom use. If I were purchasing for a classroom, I would probably order one Turing Tumble kit for every 2-3 students. There are a lot of benefits to working the puzzles as a team (my kids solved them together rather than fight over it – a total win!) but too many kids on one board would not provide enough opportunity for each person to participate.
How to Order
You can see demonstration videos of the Turing Tumble board and all of the components on the Turing Tumble website. You can order from there as well!