Review by Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2015
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Atomidoodle

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Unlock the elements in furiously fast-paced chemistry puzzler

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Science
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
8-12
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Pros: The cool graphics and interactive mazes make learning about the periodic table loads of fun.

Cons: The puzzles could quickly overwhelm kids who are just learning about the elements.

Bottom Line: This fast-paced game is great for reinforcing concepts; an option to slow the pace could make it appealing to a wider audience of learners.

Use the game as an enrichment or practice tool once students are familiar with the periodic table and the atomic numbers of the elements. If possible, let students complete the challenges individually for a given amount of time at the start or end of class. Alternatively, kids can work in small groups, taking turns to try to unlock an element. After each gameplay session, come together as a class and share the elements that were unlocked and any specific strategies students used.

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When students start Atomidoodle, they can follow through stages of a tutorial or go straight to the leveled challenges. In each challenge, a machine called an "examinator" requests specific atoms. Kids have to get the requested atoms to the examinator by moving them through the maze-filled portal. Sometimes the correct atom is released and can be moved directly to the examinator. Other times, students have to use a widget to produce the requested atoms.

Widgets either combine atoms (fusion) or split them (fission). Widgets can also hold atoms until students are ready to send them to the examinator. For example, if the requested atom is helium, but only hydrogen atoms are released, students can combine two hydrogen atoms in the fusion widget to get helium. Elements on the periodic table are unlocked as students play and can be clicked to learn more about their properties. Fun facts pop up throughout gameplay.

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Atomidoodle makes learning about the elements a lot more fun than simply studying the periodic table. The fast-paced puzzlers will keep kids engaged as they learn how to identify atomic numbers and split and combine atoms to produce an atom with a specific atomic number. Using fission and fusion will also prompt students to apply their math skills, as they mentally multiply and divide numbers before deciding whether or not these processes will work. Atoms must be moved along the mazes or they will explode. They can be built back up, but it takes time.

Because of the fast pace and the need to think quickly, this game is best suited for kids who know the basics of the periodic table. Adding a practice level or slowing the pace could make the game more appealing to kids who are just learning these concepts. An option to build atoms from scratch and see how they interact with other atoms might make the game better-aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Students with some knowledge of the elements will likely find the fast pace insanely addictive; others may become frustrated at the steep learning curve.

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

The game naturally increases in difficulty as kids continue to unlock elements. Once they're unlocked, students can read and review basic facts about each element, including its chemical symbol and atomic mass.

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

Students have the option to move through a tutorial that includes pop-up instructions. A setting to slow the pace for practice could help those who struggle to keep up.


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