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Skyrail Roller Coaster Review by Heather Jackowitz

International Playthings, Inc.

Okay, I'll admit it. I love marbles. There is something so soothing (and addicting) about releasing a marble at the top of a track and watching it twist, turn, and roll all the way to the bottom. So I was very excited to discover the Skyrail Roller Coaster! This 150-piece construction set features nine yards of glow-in-the-dark track (straight and curved), various clips and supports, two different types of marbles (four each of glass and steel), and an instruction manual. The instruction manual shows five roller coaster models, some using extra supports such as books and chairs. The models are clearly illustrated, but they are not shown with step-by-step building instructions such as you would find in a Lego set.

Even after following the instructions to build a roller coaster, children will need to tinker with it a bit to make the marbles run successfully. The first couple of runs will probably send marbles flying all over your living room. But my children seemed to like this part best of all; I think it gave them a feeling of ownership in their creation. Their delight when a marble successfully made it through three loops in a row was contagious, and I simply had to join the fun!

As children build and play with various marble runs, they are investigating the principles of physics and mechanics in a fun and exciting way. They will explore speed, acceleration and deceleration, gravity, centrifugal force, kinetic energy, inertia, and friction. The instruction manual gives some ideas for simple games and experiments to try. All this, and fun too! What more could a homeschooling parent ask for?

Now for some nitty gritty details you might like to know. This product is made in Italy by a company called Quercetti. The pieces are extremely sturdy and have stood up beautifully to the four rambunctious boys in my family. Just about any marble will run on the track, not only the ones provided, so feel free to experiment with different sizes and weights. About the only negative thing I can say about this product is that it has taken over my entire living room and distracted my children from their book studies. Oh well, it is summer!

One final warning: this product is not recommended for very young children who might put marbles in their mouths. The recommended age is six and up, although I suggest that eight and up is more appropriate because of the problem solving required to make the runs work successfully. A fabulous product and highly recommended!

Product review by: Heather Jackowitz, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2008.