About Turing Tumble

Our Story

Paul and Alyssa Boswell picture

We’re all about teaching kids to code. It’s like giving them the biggest, best power tool you can imagine. Once they have a good grasp of it, they can make things that are way bigger than them, and they can reach people all over the world.

When I (Paul) was a professor at the University of Minnesota, I spent a lot of time teaching students from all different backgrounds how to code. I have three young kids of my own and I've tried all sorts of games and toys to get them started coding early. The problem is that all of the games and toys treat computers like abstract, black boxes. They overlook the fundamental, most amazing concept: how simple switches, connected together in clever ways, can do incredibly smart things.

We started designing Turing Tumble in 2015 to give kids a way to discover how computers work and to help them start coding and designing algorithms. We worked on Turing Tumble for two years, mostly on nights and weekends. We 3D printed prototypes of parts, created puzzles, and tested them out on our kids.

Once we had a good, working prototype, we wanted to make more copies of the game so others could play it, too, but the way we were making them (CNC milling), it would have cost over $1,000 per copy! To make affordable copies of the game, we needed to create injection molds. They cost a lot up front, but once you have them, it’s inexpensive to make plastic parts.

Our Kickstarter campaign...

We decided to run a Kickstarter campaign to see if we could raise $48k to make the injection molds. We made a video, a Kickstarter page, talked to family, friends, writers, and journalists, and in June of 2017, we launched our campaign. We were hoping, but not too confident, that by the end of the 30 days, we’d reach our goal. We were shocked when we reached our goal after the first day! And then, after the second day, we raised twice as much as our goal! By the end of the campaign, we raised over $400k.

Another thing we didn’t expect is how supportive and just plain wonderful our Kickstarter backers have been. Not only have they had some great ideas to improve the game, they’ve created some cool things themselves! One backer created an online Turing Tumble emulator so people could try out Turing Tumble before they get their own copy. Another created a virtual reality version of the game. We’ve had a chance to try it out ourselves and it’s awesome!

In July of 2017, we began working on Turing Tumble full time. We finished the game, we had those injection molds made, we finished our first production run, and shipped to our backers in June of 2018.

...and beyond!

Turing Tumble is unlike anything else out there. It actually lets kids see and feel how computers work. It lets them code without getting bogged down by language syntax, and it doesn’t require a phone or tablet to operate. It’s perfect for schools. Our hope is that Turing Tumble will be used by kids all over the world, finally letting them peek under the hood of computers and discover how they work.

Computers are everywhere. By giving kids a solid understanding of how computers work, we hope that they’ll be better equipped to work with computers in the future and that they'll build the confidence to learn how other things around them work, too.