Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2015
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GazziliScience

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Six wordy-but-fun journeys excite even without freedom to explore

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Science
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Pre-K-K
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Pros: Fun-filled, kid-friendly science adventures.

Cons: Narration can sometimes get overly wordy, and not all visual or auditory explanations are crystal clear.

Bottom Line: These fun, interactive, mini-adventures are a cute way to get kids excited about science.

Teachers can use GazziliScience to introduce new science topics. Then, explore the concept in more depth. Do real-life sink-or-float experiments with some of the same objects, plant seeds and care for the growing plants, take a sensory walk and practice using all five senses, and so on. Kids can use the app individually, in which case teachers may want to delete the app and re-install between kids so that each kid can build the contraption on their own. Or, with so much verbal narration, teachers can also project their device in class and go through the journeys as a class or in groups.

With ten different language options, many ELL kids can use this app in their native language. Once kids are familiar with the explanations, teachers may want these kids to listen in English to pick up familiar words and phrases.

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In each of six interactive science journeys, kids hear narration that explains the concept and complete tasks that help make the explanation come alive. For example, to learn about the four seasons, kids hear about the Earth's orbit around the sun and then tap to move the rotating Earth. At each of four stops, the narrator describes the season, kids tap a tree to see what changes for that season, and they can tap a kid to give him weather-appropriate clothing. Other topics are: the water cycle, plants, living vs. non-living things, sink or float, the five senses. With each completed journey, kids move a new piece into a complicated pet-feeding contraption until all six pieces are in place and kids can watch it in action. The free download includes one journey -- planting -- with the rest available as an in-app purchase.

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GazziliScience breaks some complex science topics down with explanations that are -- mostly -- kid-friendly. In one particularly clever game, kids experiment with sink vs. float by giving a little monster objects that help him move up and down through pipes of a sunken ship. It's also neat that this app is fully available in ten languages, which makes it great for multilingual or ELL families.

Small details get in the way of making this app truly spectacular, though. For example, the activities have a lot of verbal narration; some kids may be itching for more doing and less listening. And though many of the demonstrations are at preschool level, sometimes explanations seem out of place or overly complicated and wordy. It's a nice touch to include a hearing impaired option that provides text for all the narration, but kids young enough to use this app are unlikely to be reading yet. It would also be nice to see an overarching theme that ties together the six topics, which, as of now, seem disjointed. Yet, overall, GazziliScience does a good job of describing a few science concepts in an appealing and engaging way.

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Overall Rating

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

Cartoonish, googly-eyed characters with overgrown heads will likely draw kids in, even if they don't appeal to all grownups. Narration and activities should excite kids, though some might want more interactive elements.

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

Kids learn about six science-related concepts through detailed, kid-friendly explanations and a few interactive opportunities.

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

Kids make progress by adding to a contraption, but kids who don't instantly "get it" could use more support. Ten languages and a hearing impaired option help broaden accessibility. Multiple user accounts would be nice.


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