Westchester fifth graders learn about computers with this fun marble game

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Students in Washington Irving Middle School In Tarrytown, New York, they get a hands-on lesson in learning about the inner workings of a computer through a fun, logic-based marble game.

As part of the computing component of the school’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) curriculum, fifth grade students use Turing Tumble, a game that simulates the input-process-output model of computing to solve challenges.

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Fifth grader Ben Luft reads an instruction book as he works on a challenge while playing Turing Tumble in class on Jan. 22.

“For me, this makes sense,” Ben said. “Input, processing, and output are the main functions of what a computer should do. I would say the game makes it easier to understand how a computer works, how input affects output, and how it’s processed in the middle.”

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STEAM teacher Megan Hack helps fifth graders Jordan Young and Olivia Rose set up their Turing Tumble board as they try to solve the challenge. Hack says the game is designed to enhance critical thinking skills through hands-on learning.

“The game is fun and engaging and provides insight into what they can’t see happening inside the computer,” she said.

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Abby Hierco waits to see if she solves a challenge while playing Turing Tumble.

The goal of the game is to make the marbles move from the top of the game board to the bottom and land at the bottom in a specific order. Students provide input by selecting the direction of the switches on the game board that determine the path of the marbles. The keys represent the computer’s processor, or the billions of switches on a computer chip, and the output represents the solution to the challenge.

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Lianna Maito’s reaction after solving a challenge while playing Turing Tumble in class.

This article originally appeared in the Rockland/Westchester Journal News: The Tarrytown STEAM curriculum includes fun, games, and hands-on learning

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