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Asteroid Escape

Lower Age: 8+
Price: $14.99
Year Added: 2018

Asteroid Escape by SmartGames is a variation on familiar tile-sliding games intended for ages 8 and up. The box contains the playing grid, which doubles as storage for the eight game pieces, and a booklet with instructions, 60 progressively more difficult puzzle setups, and 60 progressively more complex puzzle solutions. The goal of the game is to move the tile containing the spaceship to a designated exit position on the 3X3 grid, where it can be slid off the board. Though it sounds easy, there are asteroids sprinkled on all the other tiles, and some of those overlap adjacent tiles. The spaceship also overhangs on either side. This significantly limits the moves a player can make, leading to some complicated solutions, and helps users develop spatial reasoning skills. The game requires logical forethought and analysis of where plans went wrong so that a new iteration of the player’s solution can be tested. The puzzles can be very difficult at times, but if a player is willing to persevere, they’ll get a good mental workout with Asteroid Escape.

Engineering thinking and design practices the gift encourages children to do or learn about: define a problem, plan a solution, test the solution, analyze a solution, make improvements to the solution

Engineering text or context explicitly provided by the gift: a problem to be solved, a client, criteria, constraints

Additional practices and skills needed by engineers that were addressed by the gift: spatial reasoning skills, critical thinking, problem solving, perseverance, iterative design

Overall ratings:

  • Children’s Reviews
    • Rating: 4.7 out of 5.0
    • Feedback:
      • “It was very fun!” m, 7
      • “I like that it was fun and not too hard.” f, 11
  • Parents’ Reviews
    • Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0
    • Feedback:
      • “I like that it’s carry on!”
      • “The case that it comes in makes it a great choice for travel and in the car.”
  • Engineering and STEM Experts’ Reviews
    • Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0
    • Feedback:
      • “While the gift is a variant on a fairly common style of physical puzzles, the additional constraint that is the "asteroids" encourages enhanced spatial reasoning furthering the planning phase of the solution. Planning and iterative learning aspects both make this gift a reasonably advanced and challenging puzzle with some engineering design and thinking aspects.”
      • “The puzzle itself is familiar, but the asteroids put a nice twist on what you can actually do while adding an icing layer of spatial reasoning. Every move you make has to be logically planned ahead, or else you'll just end up going in circles. Every time you notice that you're going in circles you have to try and figure out where you went wrong and fix it.”