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Return of the Incredible Machine

Posted By: biory

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The Return of the Incredible Machine is a program that engages the logical mind to figure out ways of making basic mechanical devices actually work.

The Return of the Incredible Machine is a program that engages the logical mind to figure out ways of making basic mechanical devices actually work. The design is simple. You are presented with partially assembled devices and you have to complete the assembly of the device, to get it working. It is comprised of two main activity areas: Playing Contraptions and Designing Contraptions.

In the Playing Contraptions area, a player is challenged with a seemingly endless number of incomplete machines and contraptions (there are around 250 in all) that must be modified to be able to achieve a set goal. Some of the goals of the various contraptions include knocking a ball into a basket, sending balloons off the screen, turning on electrical appliances, launching rockets, and luring mice into holes.

The player must start the contraption presented on the work screen (see right for examples) and observe how its components interact. Then she must decide what pieces are missing, and select those pieces from the workbench below. Not all the pieces are useful, so the player must use her problem solving skills to determine what pieces are necessary, how to modify the pieces, and where they must go. Throughout, there are hints that can be consulted. These will give the player a better idea of what pieces should be placed where.

The Designing Contraptions area of the game provides a more advanced challenge where the player can construct her own contraption from a multitude of components. She must then remove some components so the contraption no longer works as it should. Then she must write the goal of the contraption as well as any useful hints. These created contraptions are then saved and they can be played by other players.

The program also allows two players to play against each other to get a device working and, if you have the internet, you can easily connect to their web site from within the program, where further help can be found, as well as additional contraptions you can download into your program and play.

The Return of the Incredible Machine - Contraptions is for anyone interested in science, physics, or engineering who enjoys a good challenge. For kids, it is for those who will really enjoy understanding and figuring out mechanical devices. It is designed primarily for children between the ages of 11-14, although older children and adults of like mind will also find this program engaging. It challenges the imagination and the powers of logic. It develops skills in the area of problem solving and it reinforces knowledge of physical forces and laws of motion. All of this is presented in an entertaining format that should appeal to any young learner.

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