Review by Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2014
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iBiome -- Wetland

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Smartly designed environmental sim great for learning about ecosystems

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Science
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
4-8
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: Excellent graphics and animations make learning about wetlands fun and engaging. A journal keeps track of discovered species, empowering kids to explore and learn.

Cons: Experimenting by adding species to the biodomes is confusing and could use more instructions and concrete results.

Bottom Line: iBiome -- Wetland is a fun, interactive way to learn about ecosystems without the hassle of getting wet.

The fast-paced tasks in iBiome -- Wetland don't offer a lot of background information, so it's best to use the game as a reinforcement tool rather than for instruction. During a unit about ecosystems, have kids work in pairs or small groups to complete the tasks in the freshwater marsh. If some groups finish before others, they can spend some time experimenting with their biodome. Once everyone has completed all of the tasks, hold a class discussion about the learning experience. What producers and consumers did they learn about? What were some of the predator/prey relationships? Kids can draw their own food webs using the journal for guidance. Repeat the process for all of the wetlands, and then compare them using a graphic organizer such as a Venn diagram.

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Kids can explore three different wetland habitats -- freshwater marsh, saltwater marsh, and mangrove swamp. They have tasks in each habitat, or "biodome," such as identifying consumers, producers, and environmental factors. Once kids complete a task, a new species is unlocked. The species gets placed in a virtual journal, where kids can tap to learn more about all of the species they have unlocked. Kids can also experiment with their biodomes by adding species to see how it affects the biome. However, this part of the game is confusing and doesn't clearly explain or illustrate the effects on the biodome. Nonetheless, it's fun to see a biodome flourishing with lots of organisms.

The iBiome-Wetland: School Edition includes extra features for teachers, including: mapped game levels for measuring progress, access to lesson plans, activities, videos, and more.

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iBiome -- Wetland is an engaging way for kids to learn about a variety of wetland ecosystems. They'll feel empowered to explore at their own pace and to experiment by adding any number of unlocked species to their biodomes. By drawing connections between different species and creating a web, kids learn about producers and consumers, and predator/prey relationships. But they'll need to work fast because the tasks are timed and kids "lose" if they don't draw the webs quickly enough. It would be nice to be able to turn the timer off for kids who need to spend more time on the tasks. Also, a glossary of scientific terms would be a great addition to the game's journal feature. Finally, an assessment for each type of wetland would be a welcome addition. 

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Overall Rating

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

Kids can explore three different wetland habitats at their own pace while earning fun badges. 

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

Learning is fairly open-ended -- kids learn mostly by building balanced biodomes and experimenting with environmental factors.

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

An intro provides some background information to get kids started, but clearer instructions and voice-over during gameplay could help.


Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Mike F. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
iBiome-Wetland is a beautifully designed and well-researched game that engages students quickly.

I feel that iBiome-Wetland is a very accessible and solid teaching tool. The game is full of great information and the game-play is engaging. Aesthetically, the game is beautiful - wonderful graphics and artwork.

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