Turing Tumbles Provide Hands on Learning Experiences


Turing Tumbles Provide Hands on Learning Experiences

Bennington students are learning basic coding skills in a hands-on way thanks to the Classroom Grant “Turing Tumbles,” requested by HAL teachers Abby Fitzgerald and David Porter.

These marble powered computers use marbles, levels, and switches to mimic a computer board. They are used to teach basic coding, programming and the decision making process that computers use when sorting through data. 

“Turing Tumbles are a fabulous way to teach critical thinking and problem solving. The students have to figure out how to “code” the marbles to fall at the right time and in the right order, often requiring many trials and errors, as well as LOTS of moving parts,” said Fitzgerald. “This mimics the way that computers have to sort through information and ensure that they work correctly and reliably each time.”

The Turing Tumbles not only introduce computer science, but also allow for conversations about cause and effect as well as logic and order. Students have to first understand WHY it works the way it does before they can truly solve the problem.

Each box includes over 60 repositionable levers and parts, one game board, and a book with more than 50 challenges ranging from easy to robust. This is in addition to even more resources available online. 

With a variety of challenges differing in difficulty and complexity, this can be a useful tool for Kindergartners all the way through 5th grade.

“Having tactile materials that can be manipulated is so essential to the learning process of all of our students, especially those in the HAL program. They get to see the fruits of their labor in front of them in real time. They can watch how their “computer” will operate, and “see” the adjustments that may need to be made,” Fitzgerald said.

The Bennington Public Schools Foundation awards Classroom Grants to teachers each fall and spring who apply. Turing Tumbles were part of the nearly $30,000 the Foundation funded in Classroom Grants in 2020.

“We are truly so grateful to the Foundation for providing us with such rich materials to use with our students to help introduce new concepts and to foster an inquiry environment!” Fitzgerald said.

To learn more about Classroom Grants or donate to this Foundation program, visit https://benningtonschoolsfoundation.org/classroom-grants/