App review by Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2015
Circuit Jam
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Circuit Jam

Sandbox-style lab sim lets kids play safely with circuits

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Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 1 review
Privacy rating
Not yet rated Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
4–12 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
Science, Critical Thinking

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Pros: The game combines lab simulations with puzzles for an interesting mix of educational gameplay.

Cons: Without much instructional support, kids who are fairly new to circuitry could easily get lost.

Bottom Line: A cool way to explore how circuits work, without the shocking real-life risks.

Use Circuit Jams as a supplement to help kids visualize and understand the flow of energy within circuits. Have kids work in teams or small groups to complete the puzzles, one at a time. Come together as a class to discuss the solution to each puzzle. Encourage kids to take notes about their puzzle-solving strategies to share with the class. If possible, conduct a laboratory session in which kids can recreate one or more of the circuits they've had a chance to build in sandbox mode.

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Circuit Jam is an engaging tool that kids can use to safely explore circuits, empowering them to test, modify, and retest. Puzzles are arranged in the following categories, depending on the type of challenge they present: Current, Voltage, Resistor, Ohm's Law, and Capacitor. Each category includes several puzzles that must be unlocked in sequential order. The first set of puzzles is free, but the remaining ones must be purchased. In sandbox mode, kids can build and test circuits using components such as resistors, capacitors, lamps, switches, voltage sources, and more. 

Circuit Jam offers a unique mix of lab simulation and gameplay. Kids get to experiment in a virtual lab-like setting while solving puzzles and unlocking components for the sandbox mode. One of the best features is that kids get to manipulate components of circuits, observe what happens, make modifications if needed, and test them again. It's a great application of common science practices. As they experiment, kids can learn about electrical circuits and energy flow: They're given a certain shape for each circuit and have to manipulate its components to generate signals that will replicate that shape.

Puzzles become increasingly difficult as kids progress. For example, in the first puzzle, kids must simply close a switch within a circuit to generate a constant electronic signal that produces a flat line. In later puzzles, they have to toggle switches to generate fluctuating signals, add current by connecting current sources in parallel, and divide current by adding multiple parallel branches within a circuit. Kids get instant visual feedback as they work with the circuits, but the addition of some hints could help guide those who struggle to solve the puzzles. The sandbox mode is a great opportunity for kids to replicate and test their own circuit problems or to freely experiment with circuit building.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

Kids will enjoy solving the puzzles and experimenting with how their actions affect how the circuits work.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Puzzles increase in difficulty, and visual feedback provides an opportunity for kids to test, redesign, and retest. The sandbox mode encourages creativity.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

Navigation is pretty simple, and the interactive features are intuitive. Instructional support is weak, which could be an issue for some kids.


Common Sense reviewer
Debbie Gorrell Educator

Community Rating

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Featured review by
Wendi B. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Elk Meadows School
South Jordan, United States
I like this as an option to let the students practice the concept of building and understanding circuits.
I think that this is a nice tool to teach students about how a circuit works and lets them try different things to see what will complete the circuit and what will block the flow of electricity.
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