When I was a child my favorite game was Mousetrap because the experience wasn't simply about rolling dice and moving around a board. Rather, it was an invitation to construct environments with the reward of something special happening.
I still enjoy games where you build but I especially love it when they offer clever, valuable lessons as well. Circuit Maze teaches spacial reasoning and electrical engineering with simple to understand concepts. As you play, the levels naturally get more difficult and are challenging even to adults.
If your child is interested in games at even higher tech levels, there's also a game series called CODE that teaches the valuable superpower of computer coding concepts. I only wish I had access to these games when I was young. Read the rest
Which squares fill first with fluid? Read the rest
University of Michigan mechanical engineering students have built "the world's largest hand-solvable, stationary" Rubik's Cube. Fashioned primarily from aluminum, it weighs 1,500 pounds but can be manipulated by one person. The puzzle is available for solving in the campus's mechanical engineering building. From Michigan Engineering:
They realized they couldn’t simply scale up the approach a handheld cube relies on because the friction would be too great. So to keep friction minimal, they devised a setup that utilizes rollers and transfer bearings.
“This is a truly amazing and unique kinematic mechanism that functions as a Rubik's cube,” said Noel Perkins, the Donald T. Greenwood Collegiate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and advisor to the students.
“There is no other human-manipulable cube like this, to the best of our knowledge. That said, it is not technically the largest cube. We're aware of a larger cube that requires the user to literally roll it on the ground to solve and rotate the faces. None of that is required by our stationary design. So to be very precise, it is the world's largest stationary, human manipulable Rubik's cube.”
Artifacture Studios is a maker shop based near Dallas, TX (I met the founders at a recent speaking gig at U Texas at Arlington) that does pretty amazing stuff with laser-cutters. They are probably best known for their laser-cut Eiffel Tower models, ornate models of the iconic building cut from stiff card that use cunning slot/tab fasteners that create a robust structure without glue or tape. They've also recently launched a 30-piece acrylic laser-cut puzzle called the "Frabjous" that uses interlocking tesselations of a polygon to form a great rhombic triacontahedron, "a self-intersecting polyhedron with thirty rhombic faces."
The Eiffel Tower model is ingeniously simple to assemble, the Frabjous is challenging and elegant.
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Starting with a scan of the original plans by Gustav Eiffel, this was designed to have four identical pieces that tab into one another creating a 3D model without the use of glue, tape or fasteners. Laser cut from high quality soft-touch paper. Online instructional video provided to help with assembly...
Frabjous is a sculpture and geometric assembly puzzle made from dichroic acrylic. The swirling geometric form is composed of thirty identical pieces that catch and reflect the light in stunning fashion.
Mathematically, the planes of the shape are the face planes of a "great rhombic triacontahedron," a self-intersecting polyhedron with thirty rhombic faces. But the puzzle piece is a carefully designed subset of the rhombus that doesn't intersect copies of itself.
Weaving the parts through each other so each remains planar is trickier than it looks. Instructions are included.