Teacher Review For Toca Lab

Introduce young students to the world of chemistry!

Donald P.
Classroom teacher
N.F. Woods Advanced Technology and Arts Center
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My Grades 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects Arts
EdTech Mentor
My Rating 3
Learning Scores
Engagement 3
Pedagogy 2
Support 3
My Students Liked It Yes
My Students Learned Yes
I Would Recommend It Yes
Setup Time Less than 5 minutes
Great for Creation
Small group
Student-driven work
Teacher-led lessons
Great with ELL
Low literacy
Special needs
How I Use It
Toca Boca Lab allows student to begin exploring the world of chemistry. Students start off with a 'blob' and can move it around and interact with different science lab equipment to change the element. Different tools include liquid nitrogen, and bunsen burner, centrifuge and others. This works best just handing it to students and letting them 'play' with it and see what they discover. The initial element may or may not change depending on what area of the lab you use. Once students have figured out how to change the element, then the teacher can step in to discuss what the different tools are and how scientists use them in 'real world' chemistry applications. My students liked it best when they figured out how to make the element magnetic and everything in the lab started being attracted to it and sticking to it. There are other small 'easter eggs' in the game that encourage exploration and touching everything. While it does nothing to teach actual science or chemistry it can be used a 'stepping stone' for teachers to introduce the world of chemistry to their students.
My Take
This is another Toca Boca app that lacks the depth needed to make students want to come back to it again and again. Once they have figured out all the different ways to alter the element, students move on to other apps that are more appealing to repeat play. If Toca Boca would introduce multiple elements that could be chosen from at the beginning stage, and then even allowing for the combination of those different elements within the lab conditions, it would make for a much deeper experience both in the fun and learning. This app works well with ELL and special needs students as there is nothing to read and, like all Toca Boca games, encourages students to drag, poke and play - learning and experiencing by trial and error. The element you are given and the things it changes into are all cute and appealing to young students but if you want your students to truly understand what is happening within the chemical process and why the element reacts to the different lab tools the way it does, it will take teachers working and explaining the scientific and chemical processes.