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Balance Beans

Lower Age: 5+
Website: http://www.thinkfun.com/products/balance-beans/
Price: $17.99
Year Added: 2016
Balance Beans 1

Balance Beans is a logical puzzle game where children are given a lever, fulcrum, and a collection of weighted "beans", and must find the best way to fit all of the uniquely colored and connected beans on a balance. The player is presented with a challenge card that tells them where to place as few or as many beans on the beam. It is then up to them  to place the beans that are left over as directed by the challenge card in the correct spot in order to balance the beam. This task can be quite daunting the further you go into the challenge cards, as the level of difficulty increases with each new challenge. The puzzle promotes critical thinking, tests science and mathematics skills, and encourages children of all ages to play. Engineering thinking is promoted by encouraging the user must take a problem, assess it , and develop a solution to balance the beam. When engineers are faced with a problem they must first analyze the validity of their solution by testing, analyzing, and improving to solve for the most optimal solution. Balance Beans encourages that kind of engineering problem solving in children.

 

Engineering thinking and design processes the gift encourages the children to do or learn about: Learning about the problem, making observations, plan the solution, test the solution

Engineering text or context explicitly provided by the gift: A problem, criteria, and constraints

 

Additional practices and skills needed by engineers that were addressed by the gift: Spatial reasoning, evidence-based thinking, critical thinking, problem solving

 
 

Overall ratings:

  • Children Reviews:

    • Rating: 4.3 out of 5.0

    • Feedback:

      • “I liked using the bean guys to balance the beam. It was hard but fun.”
  • Parents Reviews:

    • Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

    • Feedback:

      • “I was impressed how this game helped my 5 year old think about algebraic thinking in a fun non-threatening and totally age appropriate way.
  • Engineering & STEM Experts Reviews:

    • Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

    • Feedback:

      • “[The puzzle] allows the user to think critically and take what they are given to compose a solution, which is the basis of engineering.