Common Sense Review
Updated May 2013

Cell Command

Immersive biology game keeps students interested while learning
Common Sense Rating 4
  • Each of the six minigames is based on a different part of the cell.
  • For each minigame, an explanation of the game goal and the function of the organelle are explained.
  • In higher levels, students multi-task among three of the minigames at once.
  • For each mission, the A.I. explains what kind of cell the students will be.
  • Students recommend crew members for awards and train them to work at different stations.
Pros
Placing students in the position to operate a cell is a gripping way to teach biology.
Cons
Some students may skip the instructions and dive right into the games, leaving some learning behind.
Bottom Line
Students take away a broad knowledge of cell anatomy and function.
Jenny Bristol
Common Sense Reviewer
Homeschooling parent/instructor
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Mini-games are engaging with something to offer everyone. But even kids who are enjoying the game might find some of the ancillary reference material a bit dry. 

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

Cell Command provides all the information kids could want about cell function. However, some of that information is not built into the gameplay, so kids who want the full lesson will need to take advantage of ancillary tools. 

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

Effective basic instructions ease you into a smooth game experience. Use of the Universal Design for Learning ensures accessibility. Still, because there's no scoring and little feedback, it can be hard to measure success.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers can use this game as an introduction to cell anatomy and physiology, assigning it as homework or as lesson review. It covers the basics well enough to be used in a variety of educational situations and appeals to a wide range of students, making it a valuable tool both inside the classroom and out. Use Cell Command to reinforce lessons or to bring learning to life. Since all text can also be listened to as well as read, it will appeal to those with low literacy as well. In places, the game has cells that can perform a wide variety of tasks, but remind students that in reality, cells differentiate themselves to serve one particular purpose.

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What's It Like?

Cell Command is an extensive browser-based game designed to teach students about animal cell anatomy and function. It contains six mini-games, each designed to teach the functions of different organelles inside those cells. When introduced to each mini-game, students learn how to play the mini-game itself, but also learn the purpose of the featured organelle. With more reference material than some basic lessons, this game is good for introducing cellular biology concepts and as a follow-up to lessons on the topic. The research on which the game is based is supported by The Institute of Education Sciences.

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Is It Good For Learning?

From the basic instructions to the ancillary resources, Cell Command provides enough information to keep even the most curious minds intrigued. At higher levels, students are introduced to various cells around the body and their individual functions. This allows for a broader scope of exposure through exploration. Having been built around the Universal Design for Learning, this opportunity to explore the human body is accessible to more students. That being said, occasional text within the game could benefit from some editing, and the pace of the game is a bit uneven.

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