Review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2013

Cell Command

Immersive biology game keeps students interested during learning

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Teachers say (2 Reviews)
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Grades
6-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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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.

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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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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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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Overall 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.


Common Sense Reviewer
Jenny Bristol Homeschooling parent

Teacher Reviews

5
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Featured review by
Holly C. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Rio Vista High School
Rio Vista, CA
5
Great way to get students involved in cell bio!

First, there is the interactive component for the students that involves games, assessments and other tools. The teacher version allows direct access to the students work in real time so if any student is stuck in a particular spot, the teacher can see exactly what is going on, also acts as a progress monitor. On the website there is a very detailed lesson plan that outlines what standards are being utilized, materials needed, how long each lesson will take, various activities to do in class hands on so that the game itself is only used as a tool to enhance the learning and not take over completely. I think it is great that an application is able to offer a total lesson plan showing how to incorporate the game and online portions into the grand scheme of lesson planning. Definitely designed to take some strain off of the instructor, and make the topic more enjoyable for the students

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