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Science Heroes: Digestive System for Kids
Pros: The fun animations, games, and graphics are a unique approach to exposing kids to science.
Cons: The arcade-style shooting game overshadows learning content.
Bottom Line: Rather than a primary learning tool, this fun and engaging app may be best used as a supplement or reward.
Teachers could use Science Heroes 1: The Digestive System for Kids as an overview of the digestive system while introducing kids to key concepts and terminology. While the games are challenging and engaging, they have the potential to distract kids from learning the content. For this reason, teachers may want to use the app as a supplement rather than a primary learning tool.
Use the app as an introduction to a human body unit, or as a reward for students who've completed other classwork. If you do wish to use Science Heroes with the whole class, show the video to the group and discuss before breaking into small groups. Have students keep track of science-related vocabulary for later reference. As kids play the games, make sure they focus on the learning aspect of each mission. Have them create flashcards to summarize each mission's goals as related to the workings of the greater digestive system.
At the outset of the game, students watch a brief instructional video before being given a series of missions. There are three missions per game level, broken down by body part: mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. The general theme is to shoot at various objects, such as food particles (to break them down) or harmful substances (to protect various body parts). In order to unlock the next level, students must complete the mission set and answer two quiz questions. The quizzes give instant feedback so kids know if they get something wrong.
Kids will enjoy the video and the challenging missions in Science Heroes 1: The Digestive System for Kids. The colorful characters and animations are engaging, and the science content is presented at an age-appropriate level. Quizzes between game levels attempt to reinforce learning, but they are so staggered that kids may have a hard time recalling the information. However, feedback for incorrect answers is provided so kids can learn from their mistakes, taking the quizzes over as they work toward mastery.
The graphics look great and the missions are fun and engaging. However, some kids might lose sight of the actual learning content -- the digestive system -- as they become engrossed in the game. While the game is a nice attempt at embedding learning in a fun activity, simply shooting to advance levels may take precedence over the more meaningful learning the app attempts to offer. Also, more substantive quizzes, tappable glossary terms, and an interactive, dynamic diagram of the digestive system could help boost learning.