Today, I'm off to Bath for a friend's hen do. She's also a teacher, hence the half-term date choice, but all this holidaying means I've had exactly one day to myself all holiday, which was mostly spent washing and tidying. I'd fully intended to use the seven hours I'll be spending on a train in the next couple of days to get on top of some resources, but my husband left for work this morning with one of the most dangerous parting sentences imaginable: "You'll never guess which one of your favourite games has just been released on Steam" (an online computer games portal, through which you can download pretty much anything available for PC).
The Internet seemed to fail me at this point. Maybe because this game was so big in my circle of friends at middle school - there was one computer with this loaded onto it, which we could play as a treat for finishing all our maths work - I just assumed that it was popular everywhere. There seems to be a small cult following on Reddit, but very little about the mathematics or otherwise behind each puzzle, so I decided that, seeing as I was obviously going to lose several hours to this game again over the next couple of weeks, I may as well try looking for some of the maths myself. Something I'm interested in exploring in a little more depth is whether or not this is something that might still work well in a classroom or online education today, particularly as the game is now available on tablets too, or if I'm just getting my perception of the educational usefulness of this game confused with my fond memories of playing it as a child.
There are likely to be a few blog posts over the next couple of weeks - I may attempt to do all the puzzles, or just pick my favourite ones. I'm halfway through one about the first puzzle, which relates nicely to set theory and Venn diagrams, but my train's nearly arrived - so, for the time being, there are a few notes on each puzzle and the mathematical topics or processes explored in each available on Zoombinis for Educators.
I’m not sure why this change has been made for the re-release, but it means that a) I feel perfectly justified in dropping my OCD-like tendency to create unique Zoombinis and b) the game will take significantly less time to complete (if I decide to do so). I’m also pretty certain that this will make the game significantly more challenging than it was when I previously played it, as there are quite a few puzzles that rely on differences in the features of the Zoombinis.