Fourteen hours after Paul and Alyssa Boswell launched a Kickstarter campaign for a game designed to teach about computers, they met their $48,000 goal.
Then, things went into an infinite loop.
On Thursday, nine days after the campaign started, the Shoreview couple had raised $194,000 from more than 2,100 backers.
The game is called Turing Tumble, named after the father of the modern computer, Alan Turing, and it shows kids and adults how a computer works.
Requiring no batteries or chargers, the game is merely a board, marbles and plastic parts such as ramps, crossovers and bits that form the mechanics of a computer. Marbles roll one at a time from the top of the board through pins and switching pieces. When a marble hits a flipper at the bottom, another marble is released to create a cycle.
The Boswells, who are in their mid-30s, want kids to be able to do more than turn on a computer or start an app without thinking about it.
“We teach the building blocks of reading to help kids be better readers. This game gives them the same foundation with computers,” Alyssa Boswell said in an interview Thursday.
Players can move the parts in logical sequences to have the game add, subtract, multiply and divide. A book that accompanies the game presents 51 puzzles to solve and construct on the board. “I designed it to let kids see and feel how computers work,” said Paul Boswell in the Kickstarter video.
The couple turned to the crowdfunding website in hopes of raising enough money to manufacture steel injection molds to make the boards and parts.
With the additional funds, they plan to expand the initial production run. “Our goal is to use this momentum to make bigger and better boxes, maybe even a wall version,” Alyssa Boswell said.
Both Boswells have educational backgrounds. She taught high school Spanish at Mahtomedi. He was a professor at the University of Minnesota in horticultural science and now works for Savvysherpa Inc., a Minneapolis consulting company.
Contributors to the Kickstarter campaign will be the first to get their hands on the game, which they can do for $60. For $15, they can get a PDF of the puzzle book and computer design files to be able to produce the parts with a 3-D printer. The game is expected to be available in January.
The Boswells say that the simple processes kids and adults can learn from their Turing board are really not that different from modern computers. “It’s just that the board would have to be much, much bigger,” Alyssa Boswell said.