By now, I'm sure everyone is availed of what a petty, exploitative kind of person I am when placed in charge of elementary students. Yes, I'm sure it's a shock to many that I don't make my living on the internet, trolling for memes and swilling up articles for Darkstation- and I am perhaps too enthusiastic to blend my interest in video games with my teaching career. Fortunately, Nintendo gave me a supremely airtight excuse to do so, in the form of its stellar 3DS puzzler Pushmo.
For the uninitiated, Pushmo is a 3-D puzzle game in which players manipulate blocks to create staircases that lead to the top of increasingly complex formations. It's simple, inventive, and mercilessly challenging. It also features a "create your own puzzle" mode, and the ability to generate QR codes for every design you make. These can then be saved and distributed for other 3DS' to download and play.
Sensing a connection between the basic geometry inherent in the puzzles, and the simplicity with which they could be created and shared, I carried my 3DS into class one day and laid a challenge at my students' feet: create your own Pushmo designs on graph paper, such that I could make them in the game and show them off to the world. I worried that my kids would get frustrated, finish one or two designs, and then beg to move on to the next subject. To my surprise, however, they threw themselves into it full-bore, and in one 20 minute session they produced in excess of five designs each. I took the templates home over the weekend and began to craft, tinker, and test each design until I could come up with the best version of each student's output.
Here then, are the first few QR codes for my class' Pushmo designs. If you have a 3DS, simply start the game and scan these codes to access the puzzles. They're each pretty straightforward, but for a small group of 8 to 10 year-olds, I don't find them too shabby.
That's it for now. As I said above, I have a bumper crop of graphs waiting for me at home, and the students have been eager to make more. I've started to modify the challenges to include polygonal limits, shape counts, and height and width restrictions. So far, their enthusiasm remains untempered, which means I'll be updating these posts as I finish more designs. Pushmo is available exclusively in the 3DS e-shop for (the pittance of) $6.99.