While the games aren't inherently educational, there's lots of potential for extension and enrichment. Use the Space Race Mission to talk about the historical context of the Cold War or the science behind the multi-stage rocket, the boosters on the Lunar Module, and the materials of the space suit. Use the Peace Corps mission to discuss that program's historical context, its continuing work, and its significance. The intro video and the biography are also good resources on President Kennedy's life; use these to introduce or extend your class's exploration of this time period, and have kids compete to see who can score the highest on each of the challenges.Continue reading Show less
Produced by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, JFK Challenge introduces users to President Kennedy's story through audio clips and images and then lets kids complete games and activities that explore two of the president's key initiatives: the Peace Corps and the Space Race. The app supports up to three student profiles per device. Kids choose their mission, watch a brief historical video, and embark on a series of simple challenges. They must earn points in each challenge in order to move on to the next one. For example, the Peace Corps mission has kids train to volunteer in Colombia by learning a few key Spanish words, learning to dig a waterway, and building a house. Kids finally explore a map that shows other volunteers' locations around the world. The info section includes a longer biography of President Kennedy and an introduction to the JFK Library.
From the dynamic, animated text of the president's speeches to the cartoon lines of the Apollo space suit, JFK Challenge evokes the visual style of the early 1960s but looks fresh and modern, too. The games are interesting and amusing, and between stages of each game, kids can learn key facts, like what each stage of the Saturn V rocket does. Since the app was created by the JFK Library, there's a clearly positive perspective on the president's time in office (the Cuban Missile Crisis and other tense moments aren't featured prominently), but the tone and content seem appropriate for the age range.
While the app features good content, gameplay won't necessarily promote learning. Users don't do much more than tap and tilt; even the very-brief Spanish lesson that starts the Peace Corps mission is a basic, low-consequence matching game. Learning isn't baked into these games, though they hint at larger insights about physics and social studies. Overall, this is an amusing tool for exploring President Kennedy's achievements and playing some related games along the way.
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