DESIGNEDUCATIONALTOY Blog

AN ESSENTIAL DESIGN TOY THAT DEVELOPS COMPUTATIONAL THINKING

28 November 2017 — by Fabio Guaricci

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DESIGNEDUCATIONALTOY Blog

AN ESSENTIAL DESIGN TOY THAT DEVELOPS COMPUTATIONAL THINKING

28 November 2017 — by Fabio Guaricci

Stimulate logic and creativity of children is a common mission for many toy companies. It is not easy, however, to find great distribution games that focus on this goal without go bad in already-viewed solutions or with an expected design. For this reason, we have noticed Cuboga, an essential design toy that develops computational thinking.

Cuboga is the news by Quercetti, one of the leading companies in the Italian toy market, with 70 years of activity behind. The base version of this track is made up of 14 modules, 8 tracks, 25 joints and 3 marbles; the game is designed for children between the ages of 3 and 6 and they can have fun by creating different paths and by making them walk through the supplied spheres.

So far, nothing different from the traditional marble tracks. The first interesting element is in the cubic shape of the modules, quite rare in games of this type, even of the same company. From the design point of view, the cubes have holes on the walls that indicate the curves that will guide the bead and help the child to design the track. And that’s not all: designers have also imagined that the cube push the marble forward with an internal curvature that, coupled with the acceleration of the bead, causes it to jump up.

Thanks to this form, so regular and recognizable externally, and to the compositional features it offers, Cuboga is an essential design toy that develops computational thinking. The construction is facilitated by joints between the elements that allow a great variety of constructive possibilities, some suggested by the booklet, that reflects the simplicity but effectiveness of this toy.

Just as with our Metroquadro, from an educational point of view, Cuboga is a hybrid game that puts together several categories: half between a construction game and a traditional marbles track. This encourages the child to use logic and creativity in the construction of the path. In order to completely experience the gaming experience, the user must imagine the path and make sure that his thoughts are translated into a practicable and functional track for the marbles. The creative aspect is also stimulated by the error: the child will hardly be able to build a running track without following the instructions, will have to try, go wrong and try again to achieve a satisfactory result. That of the error is one of the most frequent and fruitful learning mechanisms of human nature; It is crucial for the child’s growth to get used to temporary failure and to teach him to look at it as a growth opportunity.

“An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field.” (Niels Bohr, physicist)

For the type of product and the logical process required for its construction, Cuboga can be included in the category of toys that helps develop computational thinking. This “is the mental process underlying the formulation of problems and their solutions so that solutions are represented in a form that can be effectively implemented by a human or artificial information processor” according to the definition of Jeannette Wing, director of the Department of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. We have already talked about this subject in the past when dealing with coding articles, precisely because this practice perfectly embodies the computational thinking logic of formulation and resolution of problems; Cuboga however, unlike the analyzed toys all of with a digital base, is totally analogic perhaps because it is not directly designed to teach programming. The analog – digital parallelism in coding education is natural: as in ‘tech’ programming toys a child need to combine a set of tiles with different functions to achieve a goal (whether it is a hurdle or one action), in Cuboga the tiles and the app are replaced by cubes and joints that the player has to match to make the marble move smoothly from start to finish.

Another one interesting aspect does not concern specifically Cuboga, but more in general the process of purchasing the product through the Quercetti website. Each game has an interactive ‘toy report card’ that guides and enriches the parent’s choice experience with explanatory charts of development areas. The world of e-commerce is constantly growing and proportionally increases online competition among toy companies. Finding a clear way to accompany and inspire purchase can be a good way to orient and enhance the research behind the development of a product designed to develop skills.