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Pros: A tidy, whimsical design makes learning genetics trait recombination less intimidating and boring.
Cons: Minigames lack learning value, and there's not a ton of depth.
Bottom Line: It's pretty simple, but totally free with just enough charm, critical thinking, and experimentation to get kids excited about he world of genetics.
Teachers can use Thingdom best as a followup to a basic lesson in genetic inheritance and expression. Thingdom provides a poignant follow-up to lessons on Punnett squares as well, as students can see the likelihood of genetic expression while reviewing possible traits before breeding.
Thingdom challenges kids to breed and collect a diverse family of Things -- cute, fictional cartoon creatures. Students choose a potential mate by reviewing the mate's genetic traits, and the likelihood of trait inheritance. Then students must complete non-educational but fun minigames to help their Things impress their mates. After breeding, students get to choose the Thing they'd like to join their family. Each of the play zones has unique decorations for Things to wear, such as sombreros, and a different pool of mates (and traits). Things are saved between sessions, allowing students to build collections.
Beautifully and adorably packaged, Thingdom has the potential to grab students and get them interested in genetics, but it'll just get the ball rolling. Students will get some good information on -- and practice toying with -- gene inheritance and expression, and some familiarity with statistics. The minigames -- while not tied to the content -- provide an effective break mid-play, keeping students' minds active and alert as they enjoy themselves. Because players are encouraged to collect more Things for their family, they have ample opportunity to practice different gene combinations, creating the types of creatures they want.