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

Simple Machines

Solid physics concepts set up by superbly stylized game

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Science
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
3-8
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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6 images

Pros: Adorable design keeps students engaged while learning new concepts.

Cons: Not all simple machines are covered, and no extensions are included.

Bottom Line: A fantastic, fun-filled jumping-off point for a lesson on simple machines that students are sure to enjoy.

Teachers can use this game as a sound and engaging way to introduce simple machines to students. Before playing the game, teach a lesson on the six types of simple machines, including the inclined plane, lever, wheel and axle, pulley, wedge, and screw (the last two of which are not included in this game). After playing the game, discuss with students what made the most efficient simple machines for each level. Learning can be extended with physical activities and labs that illustrate simple machines in a more tangible way, or students could play Crayon Physics Deluxe and discuss how simple machines and force can be used to solve the levels.

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Simple Machines tasks students with helping a cute dancing blob named Twitch retrieve robot parts by building simple machines out of everyday objects. The graphics and art are quite amusing, with adorable animations and a unique visual style. Four simple machines are introduced: an inclined plane, a lever, a wheel and axle, and a pulley. Throughout the levels, the setting provides plenty of visual interest but is smart enough to know this can be distracting, so the goal of each level is highlighted. Players also get guidance and feedback as they work through the levels. Once finished, the player gets a score for how much force he/she used for each level and how much force was left. 

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For each simple machine, students choose from a set of items to use. Their choices determine how difficult the task is in terms of the force required. The less force used, the easier the task and the higher the score. When students finish each level, the game teaches more about that level's machine, showing how to make good choices that require less force. The game is straightforward to play and serves as an easy and educationally sound introduction to simple machines and to physics in general.

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Overall Rating

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

Adorable characters and a colorful, super-slick visual style encourage kids to solve simple-machine challenges, and to keep at it if they make mistakes. 

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

Learning is well-integrated as students help Twitch gather robot pieces using simple machines. Trial-and-error and applying knowledge builds concepts.

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

Enough help is given along the way for students to use the simple machines efficiently, and scores are based on how much force is used vs. the force unused.


Common Sense Reviewer
Jenny Bristol Homeschooling parent

Teacher Reviews

(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Sandy W. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Simpe Machines Made Simple

The game Simple Machines has an interesting layout with guided instructions throughout the play. Terms and labels used in the game are accurately integrated with useful explanations. Part of the challenge is to solve the problems with the least amount of force. After completing the four games, a final analysis is given to sum up how successful you are in the game. This is a great introduction to simple machines. It would be helpful; if there were digital sheet summarizing the key concepts of the game

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