Gathering up useful resources for Slovenian CoderDojo course, one of us stumbled upon light-Bot 2 and RoboZZle at HappyNerds' wonderful collection of programming resources for kids.
One game led to the other, and — after a few days of ecstatic playing — I figured I would make the job easier for others pursuing the same task – searching for games with real educational value that help one develop not only the interactive problem-solving skills, but also create very real hands-on experience or certain depth of understanding of a particular real-world field. And for watchful parents and their likes. Gathered here are, incidently, some of the best puzzle games ever created.
Find the games in the menu above. Most games require Adobe Flash, others are links to their respective websites.
Seeking more educative material, search for "educational games" online, and compare our selection of games with your findings or the more varied selection on major established sites like Newgrounds or Kongregate. You might find the state of affairs quite sad, or at least that good, fun games that actually teach something are relatively hard to find. Here are some other sites we found that list games, more or less educative in various fields. The most satisfying of those should have been collected in the menu above, but for more interactive, story-type games, suitable for even younger children, check out the following websites too.
Brainteasers & Puzzles by the University of Cambridge
The games provided by this team are truly an exemplary resource of educational material, several of which have been kindly listed here. The ingenious team of varied-level postgrads had created this as part of some ancient government-funded boosting program, pre-2004, and has since resolved. What a shame for humanity!
I’ll just leave this here. A whole lot of educational interactives filterable by grades and disciplines.
Smart Kit: School-Safe Games & Puzzles
They provide sponsor and provide some interesting thinking logic, physics, brain-teaser, math games, and they ensure all content is family safe, meaning specifically no violence and that kind of shit. They have sponsored a few games that are featured in the menu above.
Ed Heads created several interactive activities covering various modern fields of applied science, targeted to younger primary school children in the US.
A collection of links to engineering games, best of which are recollected in the main menu above.
A site with lots of word games, especially, by SpellingCity.
GLS, a division of University of Winsconsin-Madison creates games that promote engaging ways of learning about biological systems, civic activism, pro-social behavior, programming, and other STEM fields. However, most games require Unity3D and thus cannot (yet) be listed here.
Games for Learning Institute**
Another Microsoft Research spin-off with couple dozens original educative games.
An extended collection of game-y resources for kids grade 3 to 6.
A similar site to this one but with mostly engineering-related games, and, while larger, perhaps less distinguished collection.
If you have a suggestion for an educative game or even a whole new category, write a comment below, or better yet, if you wish, just add the new game(s) yourself via a "pull request" on GitHub. :)
BTYB — CoderDojo Slovenia, Extreme Opinions
Program the robot and light up the fields. This is a much enhanced sequel that now supports conditional statements, and it doesn’t suffer the clumsy controls like the original version…
If you only play one programming game here, play this one!
Jahooma’s LogicBox is a game for programmers. It effectively teaches the essence of functional and modular design of algorithms and procedures, with an added aspect of test-driven development (you are given several tests that must all pass).
The problems are highly practical — low level string manipulation. With only 19 levels, the game runs a little short, but there is no shortage of educational fun to be had! Don’t skip this one.
F.P.S. is a programming game similar to light-Bot, but with more options, more contrasting colors, more levels, and more relevant (programming) terminology.
Dive in the world of Hackers and help SYNC fix the hipster vandalism of The Dead Pixel Society.
Truly a game for engineers. Your goal is to build machines out of programmable mechanical arms that move and transform basic elements to create compounds as required to pass each level.
The game is a little short on introduction, but when everything “clicks,” The Codex of Alchemical Engineering might just become one of the most captivating logic puzzle experiences you’ve encountered in years.
When you complete it, there is a (warning: very challenging) sequel available.
Not your typical, trivial cogs game. Using gears, gear trains, ratios, and other simple components, you are geared up for … building a real wall clock mechanism.
This is a sequel to the original Codex of Alchemical Engineering. It features original puzzles made by the author and game fans, but beware, these puzzles are extremely challenging; each one might take you hours to complete, depending on how attentive you are.
If you like these kinds of games, you may want to go to your
local university and get an engineering or computer science degree.
You are to design conveyor belts for Quality Assurance department of a robot manufacturer. The robots, pre-programmed with a series of colored dots, sometimes include invalid programs (invalid patterns). Your job is to send the quality-control-passing robots for wrapping, and the rest on the factory floor.
Given basic functional building blocks, construct a contraption that reaches its goal.
Get electricity from point A to point B, using every sort of tool imaginable. Kind of like the electrical-only counterpart of The Incredible Machine. No disrespect to The Incredible Machine series.
The reviewer is shy to admit she doesn’t really understand any of this game. Sorry. Please add to this description as convenient.
Design the technical specifications, namely the elevation at each step, for a working roller-coaster in supposedly physically-correct simulation.
The electric circuit construction game. The goal of this electricity game is to connect up all of the power sources for a full flowing circuit sharing continuous, perpetual energy.
There’s at least one effective algorithm to solve these challenges fairly quickly. Can you find it?
Not too dificult puzzle game where you have to free an item from a set of interlocking pieces that all move at the same time and in unsynchronized speeds, much like in a clock.
It’s a pretty easy game, though. Definitely use the keyboard shortcuts.
Defend the Moon from evil destroyers by spelling out on your keyboard their words. A good tower defense game that will increase your typing skills.
Send Alice in Wonderland characters to save the library from nasty ink blots. A fun typing game.
Darwin recognized that species evolve over time as their environment changes. In this interactive visualization, see for yourself how a changing environment (represented by changing background color) can impact the evolution of a population of virtual creatures. Like real-world organisms, these creatures are born, produce offspring — some of which randomly mutates — and die off. How will they evolve?
In every ecosystem there is a food chain. In the food chain, species can be consumers (who eat other species), or producers (who are eaten by other species), or both. The populations can depend on each other. Find out how in this game of rabbits, foxes, and weeds. What happens during and after the simulated 50 years?
How does this translate to the real-world economy and social class, and what does it mean for it?
Simulate the genetic pea experiments of Gregor Mendel with this game. It won’t take you years to figure and test it out.
If terms like allele, homozygote, heterozygote, dominant and recessive traits, mean anything to you, or even if they don’t (yet) but you fancy some elementary biology, this game is for you! Field-introductory simple-English instructions provided.
Your favorite agrobusiness monopolist had produced a new strain of super-potent super-crop. They have employed you to find the optimum conditions for the growth of this weed to make it commercially viable.
This is a very lovely game about (human) cells. Progressively discover what the cells are made of and what functions all their constituents perform, all the while playing through a fun, thrilling story. You should love this.
A game similar to chess, with some moves similar to Chinese chess. Practicing with this fun toy may improve one’s game in both.
Move like a chess Knight, kill the pawns, kill the King, open locks, collect the star. A fun, chess-related game.
Does extra-terrestrial intelligent life, capable of communicating with us, exist? The question is easier to address when framed as a numbers game. It’s called the Drake Equation. Learn about the probability of another civilization in our galaxy by playing with the numbers yourself.
Take apart these twenty 3D interlocking mechanical block puzzles. It will kill time all the while ever so slightly increasing your spatial awareness.
The game does an amazing job at recreating an engaging, playable version of real-world mechanical puzzle blocks, and that’s sure to work the visual-spatial part of your brain into shape!
A logic primer. Each level asks you to pick the heaviest object based on the relative weights indicated by the slant of each seesaw. While the game is not that rewarding end-wise, some of the later 6-seesaw puzzles may have even the adults scratching their heads.
The only major problem I see is that round objects tend to move and not stay still when on a slope.
Given a target color, find its RGB light (or CYM paint) value.
How well do you know your flags? Go around the world in 80 seconds to find out and learn about different flags and their origins.
The elders know Windows is a sinister operating system. This is a (not so funny) parody of Microsoft Windows, their cumbersome, under-performant, erronous ways, and the associated back doors. See why GNU/Linux is better.
How long can you maintain the state of concentrated awareness? Try and improve yourself with this minimalistic game that offers insight into conscious transe state similar to that after meditation. You should exercise meditation often.
Enter to change color.
A beautiful game that guides you through grandpa’s house and the history of sheet music. Melodious music box will let you piece together special compositions of symphonious secrets. When you unlock “Creative Mode”, you can write your own outstanding arrangements!