This picture shows a teacher demoing “Zoombinis” to his class.
When I was in the third grade, if you had told me that playing computer games like Sim City, The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis and Math Blaster was meant to be educational, chances are I wouldn’t have believed you! Amongst the math worksheets, cursive practice, spelling tests and textbooks, our twice weekly trip to the computer lab was an exhilarating escape. Sitting down in a miniaturized office chair, I’d cross my fingers and hope that the computer I had started was already on. The computers at school seemed to take a long time to turn and our time with them was limited. (Although we were told to turn the computers off when we were finished, many of us would conveniently forget to do so!)
One of the first games that I remember playing in computer lab was “The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis.” The objective of the game was to guide “Zoombinis” (small creatures that look like a cross between a blueberry and a bean) on their journey to find a new home. First, I created a total of 16 zoombinis choosing a hair, eye, nose, and leg style and put them on a ship. After the boat landed, our adventure began! Using logic skills such as “set theory,” “trial and error” and “pattern finding,” I guided the adorable Zoombinis through fun lessons.
I remember being fascinated with the level of interactivity the game provided-the game cheered and rewarded me when I was correct and made silly noises or threw my Zoombini in the air when I was incorrect. We were allowed to save our progress to the lab computers and each time I played my progress was reflected. Additionally, unlike the worksheets and spelling test I had each week, for the first time I had a lesson that was personalized to a difficulty level suited just for me!
In this article, a home school teacher discusses how she uses Zoombinis to engage her kids.
Here’s a very interesting article investigating whether Zoombinis will help to increase children’s critical thinking skills.
If you’d like to see what the games was like, here’s a video of my favorite level:
To play the game yourself, it is still available to buy on Amazon.com.