Common Sense Review
Updated August 2013

Marine Missions

Simple app sets young kids sailing in the waters of ocean conservation
Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 3
  • Kids tap to pickup garbage in the water and deposit it into a recycle bin.
  • Beautiful map acts as a guide to finding the app's activities.
  • Creature builder lets kids create their own unique sea animals.
  • Oil spills disappear with swiping, swiping, and more swiping.
  • Kids see photos of and learn about real sea animals.
Pros
Fun games and activities ease young kids into learning about a rather heavy topic.
Cons
Not much depth, and sea creature info and photos could be easier to find.
Bottom Line
Fun, sea-level learning about ocean conservation for young kids.
Dana Villamagna
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Marine Missions engages kids through fun, simple games that are designed with the youngest app users in mind. The imaginative Creature Builder is particularly engaging, with many choices and free creative play.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Beautiful world map helps kids find games and includes audio narration of the names of the world's oceans. Brief written information (with an audio option) and photos of sea animals add a simple marine biology lesson.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Clear verbal and visual instructions abound. Adults can find written instructions for some activities under the "For Families" tab.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Use Marine Missions as part of a unit study on oceans, marine life, environmental conservation, or recycling. The games to bring some fun to the heavy topic of ocean pollution; and can lead to discussions about how can we help garbage stay out of the world's oceans in real life. If kids play in the Creature Builder, talk about each of the animal parts from which they can choose: What animal does this part really belong to? What does it help the animal do, and why do you want to include it on yours?

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What's It Like?

Marine Missions is a science app that promotes ocean conservation through fun mini-missions and activities. It encourages very young app users to think about what humans need to do to clean up the world's oceans. Kids tap "Play" then choose the first challenge by tilting (or tapping) the iPad to move a boat on the screen to the correct spot on the map. In one activity, kids tap trash to toss it into a recycling bin and swipe to clean up an oil spill. In another, they swipe or tilt the screen to move a cute hermit crab over blowholes to recapture his mask. The Creature Builder provides lots of choices for making a pretend sea animal, and kids can also see photos with real sea life. There's also some basic sea animal facts and photos in the app. Through these very simple games that encourage kids to pick up trash in the on-screen ocean or swipe up oil spills, kids get the essential messages about what pollutes our oceans. Nothing too deep in these waters, but just enough information and engaging play to set young kids sailing into ocean conservation. 

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Is It Good For Learning?

Marine Missions is a fun way for very young kids to learn simple ideas for ocean conservation: trash and oil are bad for oceans. Kids can also have some fun making silly, imaginative sea animals and learning about real ocean creatures. While the beautiful map and voice instruction helps kids learn the names and locations of the different oceans and continents, kids aren't going to learn a lot of details or find great academic challenge on this app. Still, they can learn some new ocean-related vocabulary and a bit of info about sea creatures. Marine Missions is all about helping kids start to think about marine ecology through small waves of fun and creative play.

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