Review by Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2014
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Rough Science

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Great videos, but activities lack interactivity and depth

Subjects & skills
  • Science

  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: Videos are narrated by an entertaining science educator, and a teacher handbook includes helpful classroom ideas.

Cons: Limited interactivity and weak connection between using the app and learning about science reduce its value.

Bottom Line: Rough Science has potential, but the activities are basic, lack progression, and can be done without using the app.

Despite its limitations, Rough Science could be a nice way to introduce kids to the topics covered in the videos. Have kids take notes while watching the video that ties into your lesson, and encourage them to write down key vocabulary terms with definitions. Kids won't be able to pause the video, so they'll likely need to watch it more than once. Discuss the content from the video as a class, and then have kids complete the follow-up activity with their groups. If you use the app as an introduction, it could be fun to revisit the video and activity after you have finished teaching the lesson. Kids will likely have a different perspective once they have learned the content through classroom instruction.

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Rough Science teaches kids about three different, yet very specific, science topics. The developers state that the content covers Australian curriculum for Years 5 and 6, which translates to ages 10 to 12. Any middle school student would likely understand the content and be able to complete the activities. Kids learn a little bit about Earth science, physical science, and life science. For Earth science, kids watch a video about Earth's layers. Then they complete an activity by drawing pictures of the layers, taking photographs of their drawings, and dragging labels to show the layers. For physical science, kids watch a video about the three main states of matter. In the follow-up activity, kids take photographs that they find around their house or school showing water as a solid, liquid, and gas. For life science, kids watch a video about evolution and adaptations. The follow-up activity requires kids to research a real-world example of evolution by natural selection and enter their notes in a digital notebook.

Kids can learn about specific topics related to Earth, physical, and life sciences by watching videos and completing short activities. The videos are enjoyable to watch and do a good job explaining the concepts. The narrator uses fun props to demonstrate the concepts, which can help visual learners. Unfortunately, it's not possible to pause or rewind the videos, making it difficult for kids to take notes or stop to reflect on the lesson. In addition, the post-video activities lack depth, interactivity, and progression. However, they can be used as a springboard or warm-up for other in-class activities. And the Rough Science Teacher Handbook (available as a separate download) offers fun ideas for ways to extend the learning. But if you're looking for an app with strong learning potential and a lot of interactivity, you may be disappointed.

Overall Rating

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

Kids will like watching the videos, which are silly but informative. The lively presenter uses visuals and anecdotes to communicate science concepts.

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

Learning doesn't extend beyond watching brief instructional videos and completing simple activities. There's no progression, assessment, or feedback.

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

A supplemental guide for teachers includes useful extension activities and fun ideas for using the app in class. The in-app activities, by themselves, offer limited support for student learning.

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Greg M. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Good, but very limited science app...
It is a fantastic way to learn and engage students in the three areas of science which they address, but it is only those three very narrow science concepts. For the money that you have to spend they should definitely have way more content. It seems more like a free version that they try to get you to upgrade from, but yet it is not. It would also be nice to draw and label within the app instead of drawing a picture and than taking a photo of it and labeling in the app. Although clever, it can just ...
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