Dominoes – More Than Just a Game

Dominoes – More Than Just a Game


When you think of domino, the first thing that comes to mind may be a game played by children where they stack the dominoes on end and then tip the first one over. That simple action creates a chain reaction where the dominoes keep falling until the entire set is completely stacked. This type of activity has led to a popular phrase, the domino effect, which describes a situation that starts with a small action and then has large—and often unexpected—consequences.

Dominoes are also well-known as a game played by adults and can be very complex, even with the use of multiple domino sets and advanced rules. The history of the game has varied and there is debate over when it was first invented. One account is that it was invented by a statesman in China around 1120 CE. Another story is that the game was introduced to Europe in the 18th Century and became a fad, especially in inns and taverns.

A domino is a small rectangular wooden or plastic block with a line down the center that divides it into two parts. Each part has a number of spots, or pips, that resemble those on dice. A complete domino set contains 28 tiles. Each domino has either a blank side or a number side, and the value of each side is determined by its position in the set. The value of a blank side is zero, and the value of a number side is equal to its rank in the set.

Most domino games involve placing tiles edge to edge so that the values of adjacent sides match. The open ends (the edges not joined by a tile) form a pattern that is used to determine what moves are made next. Depending on the game, the player may place tiles with matching values or based on arithmetic properties of the pips (such as totals of lines and tile halves).

Dominoes can also be placed horizontally to make shapes or in 3D structures such as towers or pyramids. A very popular art form involves using a grid of dominoes to create pictures and scenes. Some of these designs can be quite intricate, and some artists spend years creating a single domino picture.

In more practical applications, dominoes are used to model how systems and processes work. They are particularly useful in the study of systems that are complex and subject to frequent change. This is because they provide an effective way of demonstrating how each change affects the whole system.

Dominoes can be used in a variety of educational activities, including physics, engineering, computer science, mathematics, and social studies. They can also be used to teach language arts and reading skills, and can help students develop the ability to identify and analyze cause and effect relationships.