Computer Logic Lesson #2: Ramps Are Like Wires

Now that you are ready to dive in to Turing Tumble puzzles with your students, you will want to know some key information to share with students as they work through the challenges. In Turing Tumble, each of the parts have a specific purpose that corresponds to an element in an electronic computer. When students begin playing Turing Tumble, the first few challenges will only use one part, the ramp. The ramp looks like this:

The purpose of the ramp is to guide marbles in a specific direction, like traffic. The direction the ramp is pointing will determine which way the marble will travel. If the ramp is on the board pointing to the left, the marbles will fall to the left. If the ramp is on the board pointing to the right, the marbles will fall to the right.

What do ramps represent in an electronic computer?

In Turing Tumble, ramps serve the same purpose as wires in an electronic computer. The ramps provide the paths for the marbles to travel. In an electronic computer, wires are paths for electricity. This is a lot like a pipe for electrons.

Image by PDPics.com

Sometimes wires direct electricity to a switch or another electrical component, or sometimes they lead to more wires that branch off.  There are even tiny wires in microchips, like this one:

Photo of a Motorola 68040 processor taken by Konstantin Lanzet. Shared under CC BY-SA 3.0 License at https://enwikipedia.org/wiki/Motorola_68040.

 

Photo of  a decapped Motorola 68040 processor taken by Gregg M. Erickson. Shared under CC by 3.0 license at https://en.wikepedia.org/wiki/Motorola_68040.

The picture on the top shows a microchip like you might see inside your computer. Microchips are just tiny electrical circuits, covered in plastic or ceramic to keep them safe. The picture on the bottom is the same microchip, but without the protective coating.

If you zoom in far enough, you can see the tiny copper wires connecting different parts of the electrical circuit, like this one:

This scanning electron microscope image of a decapped chip was used with permission from Delta Microelectronics (https://asic.madebydelta.com)

In Turing Tumble, ramps are like wires and the marbles are like electricity. When you place ramps on the board, you are making the paths the marbles can travel, just like how wires make the paths through which electricity can travel.

As you work through the challenges with your students, you will unlock more parts. Our educator blog and our educator guide share how each of the parts in Turing Tumble correspond to the parts in an electronic computer. This tangible interaction with a mechanical computer will allow students to see, hear, and feel how a computer works. Enjoy watching the discovery as their minds are opened to engaging STEM with more confident exploration.


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