Common Sense Review
Updated November 2013

Algodoo

Sandbox tool enables engaged, conceptual physics inquiry
Common Sense Rating 5
  • Several tutorials are ready to help you learn the basics of Algodoo.
  • Playing with light is a lot of fun in Algodoo.
  • You can find all kind of projects to learn from and emulate.
  • Algodoo hosts lessons and lets you write your own for peer-to-peer learning.
  • You can make vehicles that interact with their environment in Algodoo.
Pros
Clean interface, flexible controls, and helpful tutorials.
Cons
Some text-heavy tutorials and lessons will leave some kids baffled.
Bottom Line
A robust, free pedagogical tool that's like a digital laboratory and workbench where kids build and apply conceptual science knowledge.
Chad Sansing
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 5
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 5

Algodoo has thorough, welcoming tutorials. The cause-and-effect relationships between what's designed and how things play out are clear. It's easy to undo mistakes and to replay a scene until you know what's happening.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

It's easy to play with basic concepts such as friction, gravity, and light, and the physics learning and vocabulary transfer across settings. Projects on the Algobox community help players learn to make more complex machines.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 5

Multistep tutorials teach new players all the basics. Algodoo's science lessons feature built-in prediction and reflection questions to help players think through what they're learning instead of just following directions.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Think of Algodoo as a way for both teachers and students to create, share, and remix interactives, virtual experiments, lessons, and demos that build conceptual understanding of physics. Use Algodoo as an assessment tool: Ask students to model their learning by designing models, experiments, or games that demonstrate what they've learned. Since users can share their creations and lessons, teachers can also publish their work and their students' work, helping a larger global community and showing students how to participate responsibly online. Algodoo can also be a good brainstorming and testing tool; students can design models aimed at solving larger real-world problems, or as safe and cheap preparatory work for actual builds and projects.

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What's It Like?

Algodoo is a 2-D physics sandbox that lets students build working systems of environments and objects that all have interacting physical characteristics; it's like a blend of a toybox and laboratory sure to lead to fun and discovery. Changing the density of an object, its mass, or the material from which it's made can greatly impact how it works, and students get to see these changes in action -- effectively learning through experimentation. Attraction (magnetism), gravity, and light can also be tweaked, and students can create anything from simple scenes or machines that illustrate a principle or two to complex machines like simple computers, sorting machines, and vehicles. While advanced users can do extraordinary things like create playable games, even beginners can have a blast playing around with just a few objects and settings at a time to see how things like density or refraction work.

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Is It Good For Learning?

It's terrific for teaching basic physics, since it removes some of the complexity and confusion of 3-D, and it offers useful tutorials for new users. Less computer-saavy students don't have to worry about awkward camera angles or other 3-D snags, making it easier for them to control and set up simple experiments. Since users can create and share specific lessons, it's also great for classroom teachers who want to prepare virtual demos that students learn from and remix in school or at home. Algodoo is a engaging and supportive primer in basic physics that helps learners discover and toy with the logics behind every day forces like inertia, momentum, and reflection. The number of variables users can control is impressive, meaning students from novice to experienced can always find new things to build and test.

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See how teachers are using Algodoo

Lesson Plans