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Hacker

Lower Age: 10+
Website: https://www.thinkfun.com/products/hacker/
Price: $24.99
Year Added: 2018
Hacker Image1

Hacker, for ages ten and older, is a unique programming board game with many novel elements. This game has both single player and multiplayer levels where the player(s) devise a strategy to capture the data file tokens and reach the exit points without encountering the virus tokens. This process is accomplished through a three-stage process. In the “Code-It” phase, the player(s) devise a preliminary strategy to capture the data files and exit the game. This strategy must account for predefined instructions which must be done in the chosen rounds. These instructions cannot be altered or ignored, therefore the player(s) must plan ahead to incorporate these into their strategy. In the “Hack-It” phase, the player(s) must step into the mind of a hacker, and discover how altering the order of instructions may cause the strategy to encounter a virus token. In the “Fix-It” phase, the player(s) must then counter this possible hack to make their solution unable to be hacked in that manner.

 

The game excellently promotes several aspects of engineering thinking and design through both the flow structure of the gameplay and the focus on methodical problem-solving. The player tackles a crafted problem with respects to the constraints provided in a concise process of planning, execution, analysis and revision. These are essential skills in engineering projects and careers, and these puzzle rounds, which increase in difficulty from easy to expert, task players to realize them in challenging yet collaborative environments.

Engineering thinking and design practices the gift encourages children to do or learn about: Idea generation, plan a solution, test the solution, analyze a solution, make improvements to the solution, and recognize patterns

Engineering text or context explicitly provided by the gift: A user, constraints

Additional practices and skills needed by engineers that were addressed by the gift: Spatial Reasoning Skills, Creative Thinking, Working Collaboratively, Design,    

Overall ratings:

  • Children’s Reviews
    • Rating: 3.2 out of 5.0
    • Feedback:
      • Instructions were confusing
      • Once they understood how to play, they had a lot of fun
  • Parents Reviews
    • Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0
    • Feedback:
      • Instructions took time to understand, but after they did
  • Engineering and STEM Experts Reviews
    • Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0
    • Feedback:
      • This game does an amazing job at forcing the player to solve problems within a constrained system, which slowly grows in complexity. It's very good at forcing the player to think out their steps and how things will change in relation to each other as the process goes on.