Common Sense Review
Updated August 2012

Alien Assignment

Fun collaborative project for kids; cute storyline for problem-solving
Common Sense Rating 4
  • Alien Assignment encourages kids to interact with grown-ups (or partners).
  • Partners review the pictures kids have taken to make sure what they've found will serve its problem-solving purpose.
  • If the found object fits the mission, it's used to fix the broken part on the spaceship.
  • Through creative problem solving, the ship gets fixed and the Gloop family can go home.
Creative problem-solving missions get kids out of the screen and talking to adults or other kids.
Problems and missions repeat after a dozen or so assignments.
Bottom Line
Fun scavenger hunt empowers kids to solve problems creatively and collaboratively.
Amanda Bindel
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 5

The premise of the Gloop family story is thought out and well executed. Illustrations and animations are cartoony and something kids will enjoy. A "must have" for some family fun.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Kids can learn to problem solve, investigate, and think creatively as they figure out what is needed to fulfill their photo assignments. Kids get step-by-step instruction on how to take pictures using an iOS-style camera.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 1

The photo review provides kids with feedback on their solutions and also gives parents a way to begin conversations with kids about important learning topics.

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

Have kids work in pairs -- with one choosing the items to photograph and the other deciding whether the pictured items will adequately solve the problem. Or, have small groups work together to think of items to photograph and then switch roles (and devices) with another group to decide whether the pictured items will solve the alien's problems. Use it as a beginning of the year project to introduce expectations for working in groups, to model how to offer constructive feedback, or to demonstrate rules and expectations for using the classroom devices. Since it's a highly engaging, quick (with a four-clue game) mission, you can easily work in some creative problem solving without much fuss or prep.

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What's It Like?

Alien Assignment is a scavenger hunt that empowers kids to interpret assignments themselves. For example, they must find something that rolls -- will they choose wheels on a toy car, their pencil, or some other object that even you might not think of? Kids use the device’s camera to take a photo of the objects on their mission. You can customize the number of assignments in the settings (choosing 4, 8, 10, 15, or 20). After kids have completed their assignment, they are instructed to bring the camera to an adult (though in a classroom, having another kid play that role would be an empowering collaborative activity) to give a thumbs up or thumbs down about whether each pictured object would serve the purpose described in the mission. If an item doesn't pass inspection, kids get another chance to find and photograph an object. If they do, then the Gloop family uses the items to repair their spaceship. Mission accomplished!

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Is It Good For Learning?

The storyline of the stranded Gloop family draws kids in, and they'll be engaged in helping the family repair their spaceship using their unique ideas. The pass back-and-forth aspect of Alien Assignment is innovative and encourages kids to interact socially. The missions do repeat after a few rounds of play, so this isn't a tool that could be used every day. Kids can't rely on the app to give feedback -- they must interact with another person to get feedback, but that's not necessarily a bad thing! They'll think creatively, feel empowered, and work cooperatively to solve a problem and see immediate results.

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See how teachers are using Alien Assignment