Name: Bolide
Publisher: Rio Grande
Number of Players: 2 to 8
Play Time: 120 Minutes
Grade Range: Middle and High School
Return on Investment: High
Format: Analog Game

Bolide brings racing and physics together on a crash course as students hope to be the first across the finish line in this dynamic simulation of the sport. In the game, car movement is not driven by dice or cards. Instead each movement is based on vector physics, giving students control over their car’s momentum and inertia as they weave between their competitors and the twists and turns of the track.
Bolide is played on a double sided board, which features a different race track on each side. Both tracks are overlaid with a grid, whose intersections serve as the movement points for the cars as they race along the track. Each player has a car and a momentum marker that will be on the board at all times. At the beginning of the game, a player may move anywhere within a one space radius of their car at the starting line, moving on the intersections of the grid. For example, they could move forward one intersection and over one to the left. After the student finishes moving, their momentum marker would then mirror that exact movement pattern, one space forward and one to the left, from the point where their car finished moving. Now, for the remainder of the game, players must finish their car’s movement anywhere within a 2 square radius surrounding their momentum marker. This simple mechanism allows students to interact with and push the limits of acceleration and momentum as they make their way through hairpin turn and long straightaways.
The game, while normally played for two laps, can easily be played for just a single lap to shorten the playing time. This doesn’t exclude playing longer games though, as the game state can easily be saved between classes and recreated by taking a quick picture of the board. To take the game even further, students can mount a camera over the board and take pictures of the cars as they move each turn. Those pictures can then be used to create a stop motion video that allows students to see the motion of their cars in a more fluid manner.

There are other rules regarding the risk involved with being near other cars, special movement actions and drafting but these can easily be removed to ease student entry into the game. Because, even without these extra mechanisms, Bolide is an exciting game of Formula-1 racing that is centered wholly around the principles of physics. While that is value enough, Bolide goes beyond by giving students an opportunity to experience and manipulate these concepts in a familiar and fun environment.

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Who hasn’t dreamed of harnessing the power of the mind for good or evil. Well now you can practice for the future! Mattel is releasing a game that is akin to something out of science fiction. Mindflex is a an obstacle/dexterity game in which you move a ball through a series of obstacles…. WITH YOUR MIND!

Using technology similar to that of an EEG, the game uses sensors that you wear on a headband and connect to your ears which register changes in your brain’s activity when you concentrate and relax your thoughts. These changes control a fan that adjusts the height of a ball. The harder you concentrate, the higher the ball floats and as you relax your thoughts it descends. The goal of the game is to guide the ball through different obstacles set up around a ring. Using your mind to control the height of the ball and your hand to control the ball’s movement around the ring, you need to coordinate the two activities to successfully navigate a particular course.

While this carries a higher price tag than most games (approx. $80) it seems to offer some fantastic potential for applications within the school. Science classes studying human physiology can harness and experiment with the electrochemical aspect of the brain. Physics classes have a new tool that is assured to keep students’ attention and what a toy for technology. Mindflex has the making for a successful marriage of curriculum and play, allowing students to develop understanding and mastery of content and skills through use and interaction as opposed to passive reception and memorization.

I hope to acquire a review copy to bring in to schools so that I can get feedback from students and educators and provide a more detailed recommendation for when this becomes available. If not, I will be sure to pick a copy of this up. Either way, it seems that Mattel has a winner with Mindflex.