Monday, August 26, 2013

History of the Video Game Unit Study: LEGO Marble Mazes

The girls and I are at the very beginning stages of our History of the Video Game unit study.

We're so early into it that we haven't even started studying video games yet!

The pre-history of video games involves portable tabletop games--primarily bagatelle, a sort of mini pool table with obstacles. That game was turned into a game of chance called baffle ball by tilting it and adding a plunger, and letting the balls fall into various pockets. Games of chance, however, are also easily made into games of gambling, and to sidestep the backlash against gambling, baffle ball added flippers, turning it into a game of skill called pinball.

Also involved in the prehistory are jukeboxes and the invention of the computer, but for now, we're beginning at the beginning: tabletop games of skill and/or chance.

So we built one!

Using a LEGO base plate as the base of the maze, first build up a wall of LEGOs around the perimeter of the plate, and then create a maze for a marble to navigate:

It's the simplest of projects, and the girls were enthralled:

Both of them re-built their maze over and over, re-running the marble through it to explore different layouts and strategies, and Sydney has come back to it daily over the past week or so. She's discovered that a maze might be simple going one direction and difficult going the reverse direction, she's discovered that you can amp up the challenge by adding two marbles, and she's gotten out our drilled wooden marble maze blocks to explore different ways that gravity can move marbles through a path.

I must make a note to take her to the Wonderlab this week--they have an inclined LEGO base plate and a big bucket of LEGOs set up in their water exploration area so that you can run water down the base plate and dam it up or make channels for it with LEGOs. I admit that I'VE spent plenty of time playing with that brilliant toy!


Tina said...

This looks fun! Emma's been on a collage kick lately, so I will file this for when her LEGO mania kicks in again.

julie said...

Oooh, collages! I bet that's a great way to get rid of scraps and recycle random stuff.

I've seen a few ideas around about using special pieces to do mosaics on a LEGO base plate. This may be my next LEGO mission.