App review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education | Updated August 2014
Agent Higgs

Agent Higgs

Elementary-particle game stresses strategy and logic more than science

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Editorial review by Common Sense Education
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Grades
6–12
Subjects & Skills
Science, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Clever puzzles amp up the fun and hint at some intriguing cutting edge science.

Cons: Students will need to look elsewhere for deep understanding of the physics involved.

Bottom Line: This science-themed puzzle game is a fun introduction to basic particle physics, but leans a bit too hard on the skills-building in a game targeting science.

Teachers can use Agent Higgs as a logic-puzzle game on its own or integrate it into a physics or chemistry lesson. It could be used as an introduction to the topic or as a fun way for students to interact with particles they've already learned about. Some levels are a bit tricky, so working in pairs might be helpful. Students can also use the level editor to design their own puzzles to share with others and demonstrate what they've learned.

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Agent Higgs is a logic-puzzle game in which players use elementary particles -- electrons, several kinds of neutrinos, and others -- to maneuver and hide Agent Higgs. (The theme is likely based on the Higgs boson particle being hard to observe.) Students move the particles orthagonally with the mouse or arrow keys, and the particles don't stop until they hit a wall. Players can combine matter and antimatter to cause explosions, which is sometimes necessary to allow access to Higgs. Neutrinos can travel through some walls and not others. Like charges repel. Students use strategy and obstacles to move most efficiently. It's really a puzzle/logic game first and a science lesson second.

Levels start out easy and quickly ramp up in difficulty as new particles and obstacles are added. This free Agent Higgs version has two chapters, each with at least 25 levels, plus a level editor. As students solve each level, the next one is unlocked, and they can go back and play earlier levels any time they like. Players score from one to three stars when they finish a level, depending on how many moves were taken compared to that level's perfect score.

While a science-themed game, Agent Higgs is light on science, teaching, and explanations. Instead, it's a decent logic puzzle game with some nice scientific context, exposing students to elementary particles and actions, such as neutrinos being able to pass through some substances and matter + antimatter = boom! Playing this game, however, students will likely get curious about how the particles function, and want to seek out additional information. In the end, it's an engaging, interesting, and fun logic-puzzle game that will keep students' interest long enough to introduce them to the applicable science.

The included level editor allows students to create up to 25 original puzzles to share with others, which will teach them more about how the particles interact and what makes a good logic puzzle.

Overall Rating

Engagement

Puzzle solvers will get sucked into level after level. Those who are in it for a science lesson may be disappointed.

Pedagogy

A very basic introduction to some of the elementary particles that make up our world, and how matter and antimatter work together. 

Support

There are some basic instructions during play, but only game mechanics -- not science content -- are shown on the help screen. Level scores are helpful to encourage students to improve their efficiency, however.


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