Review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2014


A pre-algebra package: knowledge delivered, fun lost in transport

Subjects & skills
  • Math
  • Science

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: Features a broad knowledge base that builds at a steady pace.

Cons: It can be hard to find help, and it feels outdated for the high price.

Bottom Line: The high price and aging design make it a potentially justifiable purchase only for pre-algebra classrooms that'll get a lot of use out of it. Be aware some students might see it as old school.

Teachers can assign Evolver as homework or seatwork, allowing them to practice learned skills. Students who need only a little variety will respond well enough, but more creative or advanced students may dismiss Evolver as archaic and inconvenient.

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Evolver drops students into a hostile mathematical puzzle made of immersive -- but outdated -- graphics, and they must draw simple logical conclusions from the environment to progress. There's a variety of pre-algebra lessons embedded in each part of the puzzle, but students must connect the content on their own. While these logical leaps are interesting enough for late elementary students, older students may see the game as transparent or tedious.

It's a moderately well-designed game that provides both educational pre-algebra content and a platform for practicing knowledge and skills. It covers such topics as prime factors, fractions, percents, solving equations, functions, and coordinates. Unfortunately, the design is so out-of-date that many students will have difficulty suspending disbelief, which makes the inherent learning stick out. This leaves students feeling like they're playing a homework assignment.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Thanks to an array of challenges, students will find moderately entertaining mechanics as they progress, but poor graphics and unintuitive controls prevent real immersion.

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

Challenges are arranged by subject and difficulty, and students can learn specifics about the topics inside the game. Math concepts are the core mechanic, including collecting prime numbers and perfect squares.

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

Included math lessons are helpful but don't make up for the absence of other helpful support features. A lack of tool tips too often leaves students wondering "what next?"

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