Crayons and Marbles in the Computer World

Filed under: Toys, Gadgets

My dad taught engineering and both my sister and my brother grew up to be engineers. When I was a kid we sat around the dinner table talking about Einstein's theories and solving mathematical equations. That explains why I became a musician and a cooking show host. As much as I enjoyed our dinner conversations, I'd rather spend time with my crayons than Fermat's Last Theorem.

Thirty years too late, I just discovered a new computer game we could have all played together. Crayon Physics Deluxe ($19.99) is a wonderful marriage of crayons and physics by Petri Purho, a Finnish computer science student.

All you do is draw pictures and then the laws of physics are applied to whatever you've created. Draw a hill with a ball at the top, for example, and the ball will start rolling down the hill faster and faster. Draw a bucket of water on a door above your sister's head and, well, you get it.

Purho, who won the 2008 Independent Games Festival Grand Prize, has worked some fun problem-solving into the program, as well. Want to move a ball to a certain area of the game? No problem, just create the right mechanisms to do it yourself. Think of it as a giant virtual marble maze or puzzle. Check it out, it's amazing.

Speaking of marble mazes, my kids and I just saw the modern upgrade of that old marble rolling game. Q-ba-maze ($20 and up) uses snap-together blocks with built in channels for your marbles to roll down. Some blocks go straight, some turn, some drop off and some split into two channels. Or, drop a whole handful of marbles in at the same time and It's like a giant Plinko game. Very cool.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.