Review by Christie Thomas, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2014

Edheads

Realistic, appealing simulations deliver superb science content

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • College & Career Prep

Subjects
  • Math
  • Science
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
3-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (10 Reviews)

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Pros: Engaging models help connect science and math content in meaningful ways with realistic scenarios.

Cons: Some simulations lack enough help for students, and the inability to monitor progress and scan through a segment is frustrating.

Bottom Line: Definitely one for your “love it” list, the site helps kids simulate science and engineering career activities while covering related content.

Teachers will love that Edheads activities require very little in the way of pre-activity instructions, and typically take about 30 minutes to complete. Activities for younger kids work best individually or in pairs, while those that are more advanced may require small groups. The Edheads teacher guides provide tips on setup and logistics.

Chemistry teachers could have students apply their knowledge in “Nanoparticles,” while simultaneously pulling kids for one-on-one conferences. Just be sure that segments are completed before pausing, since progress can’t be adjusted within a section. If you're teaching health units on substance abuse, you may find a connection with the “Crash Scene” and “Trauma” simulations. In anatomy class, students in small groups could work on separate virtual surgeries and report to the class. MS teachers will enjoy “Simple Machines” as a learning activity. While some students work online, others could build examples at stations. “Compound Machines” is a great extension, but be aware that young students perusing the entire site may find some more mature content.

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Edheads offers online simulations containing content from middle school to advanced levels. Users begin by choosing from 17 activities in a drop-down menu. There's a significant audio component, though captions are provided. It's recommended that kids have access to headphones. All simulations have coordinating worksheets and assessments; some are optional, while others are more necessary. There are teacher guides with helpful information.

Activities vary in design and length, but each starts with an introduction and is chunked into segments. The scenarios place kids in content-related professional roles, such as surgeons or engineers. A few topics are geared toward younger students (machines and weather), but most are for advanced high school students, especially in the life and medical sciences. Teachers should know that some of the content here (surgeries, car crashes, etc.) could make kids squeamish or upset.

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Edheads has done an exceptional job of simulating real-world contexts for kids' learning, and created exciting, content-based activities. For instance, kids might be asked to design labs for doctors’ offices. In another example, middle school kids pretend to be a weather intern while reading meteorological maps and predicting the weather. High school students may help an engineer chemically create and then test nanoparticles to treat brain tumors. Elsewhere, kids get into the forensics of a car crash by interviewing witnesses and calculating speeds. Thankfully, the teacher guides provide worksheets, implementation tips, discussion ideas, and even extensions.

Overall, placing learners into the active role of a professional helps build engagement in a way that makes content meaningful. There are a few caveats, of course. Teachers should realize that any user (kids, too!) can access the answer keys, and that most simulations don’t provide reports on students' in-activity responses. But overall, this dive into real-world science is likely worth it.

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Overall Rating

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

High-quality animation and audio, combined with current topics, grab and keep students' attention. Real-world medical and engineering scenarios will intrigue kids, while online interactivity helps keep them focused.

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

The site adeptly weaves content into authentic simulations. In-activity definitions and glossaries provide solid vocabulary support. Middle school activities are the right kind of odd, while advanced high school topics have a more scholarly tone.

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

Teachers will appreciate the clear guides, worksheets, and assessments. Audio and closed-captioning help all learners. However, teachers will miss the ability to monitor progress, and kids can't fast forward/rewind within segments.


Common Sense Reviewer
Christie Thomas Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 10 reviews) (10 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Pat W. , Media specialist/librarian
Media specialist/librarian
Interesting simulations of real life medical and engineering activities.

Wish that the product did not include ads
Students should work individually or in pairs
Students will need to use headphones and teacher on-task monitoring should take place
COPPA compliant but teachers should send home a letter to parents alerting them to the real life photos of real medical procedures.

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