I recently bought a conus textile seashell to give to a young relative of mine that loves science. Conus Textile shells are really cool, because the pattern on their surface is almost identical to that created by a simple 1-dimensional cellular automata with 30 as the ruleset. But instead of just giving her the shell, I wanted to make her earn the gift through a game-like exploration of cellular automata, with the shell being the big reveal after she’s completed it.
This is a first pass at such a game. At the start, a single line with random state is presented to the player, along with a blank line. Mousing over any of the cells will highlight the three previous cells that determine the state of the mouse-over cell, and clicking on the cell will toggle its state. Once all of the cells in the new line are correct, a new line is added to the display. Over time, the distinctive pattern found with rule30, and on conus textile shells, will emerge.