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

Responsibility Launcher

Intro to civic responsibility launches knowledgeable, involved citizens

Subjects & skills
  • Social Studies

  • 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: Entertaining game requires students to consider their duty to government and society.

Cons: Doesn't go into depth on covered topics; more study will be needed.

Bottom Line: A useful, humorous jumping-off point to teach students the nuts and bolts of being a good, responsible citizen.

Teachers can use Responsibility Launcher as part of a greater iCivics curriculum, as a stand-alone game during a lesson on civic responsibility, or by following the lesson plan provided on the iCivics website. The game offers students a valuable reminder that our government and society only work because of citizen involvement.

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Liberty Belle, the Fairy of Civic Responsibility, inspires citizens to do their civic duty by launching anvils at them. She also guides students as they read about ordinary citizens' issues and complaints and match those issues to different forms of civic engagement, such as jury duty, military service, voting, community service, staying informed, and others.

Students listen to each issue and scroll through the civic-duty anvils until they find a match. They then move the anvil to the proper catapult, click the launcher, and Liberty Belle launches the anvils at citizens. Correct matches cause citizens to avoid the anvils and be inspired. Incorrect ones cause the anvils to land on the citizens' heads, confusing them. Students have additional opportunities to answer incorrect matches correctly.

One citizen is added in each of the game's rounds, ending with five citizens in round five. There are always more civic engagement topics than citizens, so students must read carefully to make proper matches.

Full Disclosure: iCivics and Common Sense Education share a funder; however, that relationship does not impact Common Sense Education's editorial independence and this learning rating.

Students learn how to use civic engagement to navigate society and the governments that affect us, and they discover a number of ways to participate in societal and government processes. Some citizens' issues, such as military service, are quite easy to match properly, but others, such as community service, require a much closer read. Although this is a very quick game that doesn't teach subjects in great depth, it's very useful as an introduction for students who will study the topics further. The game is short, but lessons are learned.

Overall Rating

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

Cheerful music, humorous content (with some playful cartoon mayhem), and a colorful interface make it accessible and cheeky, but the gameplay is a bit too simplistic.

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

Although the game doesn't go into much depth on the subject of civic engagement, it is a useful introduction. Questions are straightforward, and students are given chances to fix incorrect answers.

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

The game includes basic instructions and keeps track of students' scores. A certificate can be printed at the end. The iCivics website also includes lesson plans on how best to use the game.

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