Common Sense Review
Updated March 2013

Alchemy ~ Genetics

Crossing animals endlessly too much of a one-trick pony
Common Sense Rating 2
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 2
  • Main page.
  • Menu items allow students to arrange animals, clear, visit the app’s Facebook page, and more.
Pros
Kids get to create new, surprising types of animals.
Cons
Some outcomes aren't logical, and the reading level will be too high for many.
Bottom Line
Alchemy ~ Genetics can get creative juices flowing, but it needs more complexity and less reliance on Wikipedia.
Leslie Crenna
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 2
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Graphics are cute and clean. Some kids will love collecting and making new, weird animals and might even read about the real critters. Others may get bored with repetitive gameplay.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 2

Kids can learn animal names and basic characteristics, and if they're feeling up to it they can read Wikipedia entries.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 2

The help page explains a lot, but many kids are likely to skip it. The hint button helps a little, but not always. Navigation and gameplay can be confusing.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Wikipedia entries about the animals could be very challenging for students to read and comprehend. If they're struggling with the regular entries, though, or -- as we might guess -- just ignoring them, you can try introducing them to the Simple English Wikipedia website. You could also reinforce the idea of mixing by asking students to reflect on fruits like pluots and tangelos that are crosses of two other fruits.

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What's It Like?

Alchemy ~ Genetics is likely to capture the attention of creature-loving kids. They can collect up to 525 animals and create new, weird ones. Starting with three animals, kids drag one over another or tap them to create strange combinations. The Plus button allows kids to add any whole animals to the play space, and pressing and holding in the list window displays an animal's characteristics, its current combinations, and a link to a Wikipedia entry about it. The light bulb, which is the challenge button, displays the creatures presently targeted for wild and wacky combinations.

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Is It Good For Learning?

In the process of creating new combos, students can learn some animal vocabulary and how to follow and remember testing sequences. Also, if they read the Wikipedia entries, they might learn about wild animal biology. Some kids will find it amusing to be able to combine different sorts of animals. Others may get bored with the repetitive gameplay -- testing possible combinations over and over -- and won't engage with the wordy and adult-level scientific information on Wikipedia.

Some students will actually try to think about which characteristics they should use to create interesting challenge creatures, but for the most part, the logic is not all that logical: In this world, hedgehog plus dragonfly makes opossum, ant plus squirrel makes flea, and owl plus opossum makes eagle. Others do have some logic: Ant plus rat equals scorpion (we can see it!), and fish plus scorpion equals … scorpion fish! If nothing else, Alchemy ~ Genetics will get your students wondering about animal characteristics.

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See how teachers are using Alchemy ~ Genetics