Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2012
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Go Car Go

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Challenging game makes physics fun

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Grades
5-10 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Explanations of physics principles are easy to understand and implement.

Cons: No user accounts to track individual progress.

Bottom Line: Simple design and challenging play teaches physics effectively.

Go Car Go is fun, so if you're using it during class time, prepare to be met with some reluctance to stop playing. Let students play the game as a hook before discussing principles of physics like mass and acceleration, and then lead them in a discussion about their observations. This app also makes a great object lesson on perseverance and learning from "failed" attempts. Discuss with students how, even when their cars didn't make it past the finish line, they adjusted their designs and tried something different, just as successful people in any field try, fail, evaluate, and try again.

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Go Car Go  is an incredibly fun game of physics in action. Kids create cars from an assortment of materials -- wheels and blocks of various weights and sizes -- and then send their cars down a course, hoping to catch a star before crossing the finish line. Each course offers a different journey of obstacles. Kids can replay levels, which is helpful if they just must get that star, and each level gets more difficult. Players can share results via social media, though that's optional. Instructions are brief and easy to understand, but they're written, so Go Car Go might be best for independent readers. The challenge, however, will entertain and educate kids of all ages.

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Kids can learn basics of physics -- specifically, the impact of mass and its placement on the acceleration of an object. Go Car Go makes being a scientist fun as students create a hypothesis, test it, and evaluate it –- by creating a car with wheels and weight in varying positions, sending the car down a course, and evaluating what worked and what didn't. Initial levels are easy and offer few choices in the car's construction. But each level offers more choices in building materials, and each course gets more challenging. This addictive app makes exploring momentum, gravity, and velocity incredibly fun. Students will need some explicit instruction in the principles at work to fully grasp the physics involved, but the simplicity of the design makes it easy for students to see how the idea transfers into real-world applications.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
5

This addictive app makes exploring momentum, gravity, and velocity incredibly fun. Players who enjoy experimentation will adore it, although some might need some outside cheerleading to tackle the challenge.

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

Go Car Go makes being a scientist fun as kids create a hypothesis, test it, and evaluate it. This fun game goes beyond physics to help kids learn from failures and do better next time.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

Kids get a preview of the course, some basic information on physics, and unlimited tries to improve their car. Without hints, kids learn through trial and error. Players can opt in to Apple’s Game Center to track scores and achievements.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

3
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Featured review by
Wendy B. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
3
Using basic physics principles, students build a vehicle using pre-selected parts, which travels along a set path to a finish line.

This app has a simple interface and is easy to use. The integration of physics concepts makes it appealing to the educational environment while the creation aspect makes it appealing to all students. I liked the simplicity and how students do not need to read to play the app. It could serve kids and/or teaching better by providing means to track student progress.

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