Review by Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2013

Engineering.com Games

Fun, thought-provoking games uneven but may spark engineering dreams

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Teachers say (3 Reviews)
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Grades
4-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: So many games to choose from and little fear of inappropriate content make this site a solid go-to for educators.

Cons: Some games aren't as fun as others, and traditional curricular use is limited.

Bottom Line: A great list of games that's an excellent resource for special projects or a rainy day.

Teachers can certainly recommend most of these games for free-time or rainy-day recess activities. Since the games appear to all be single-player and don't save data, their use in the classroom is limited in the traditional curricular sense. However, break down the steps in Koutack, for instance, and concepts of sequence, spatial reasoning, and problem-solving can be demonstrated in action.

You could also challenge kids to write instruction manuals or problem-solving guidelines for this game or many others, then have them test their work on small groups of students who are playing the game individually. A truly detailed study could make use of pre- and post-tests of time to completion or number of attempts to measure just how effective the guidelines were. Kids could also create their own favorites list and write reviews to support their choices.

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Engineering.com Games is a collection of games accessible on Engineering.com, an informational website oriented toward adults but accessible to older kids as well. With about 100 engineering, physics, aerospace, and logic games, quality varies only a little. Some games are RPG quests, while others are basic physics, but most are engineering, spatial reasoning, or logic games. Links to Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter, and more allow kids to share their favorite games, but there's no registration or login options; you just play.

Favorite games include Ninja Mushroom, where you can try out varying block arrangements (keeping in mind that some burst upon contact with others and some will make the adorable little fungus melt like it was in your frying pan); and JECT, which couples physics, timing, and prediction into a modern marriage of Pong and Angry Birds.

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Most of the games on the Engineering.com Games site feature some valuable learning skill: from open-ended spatial organization to predicting the results of reversed gravity buttons to testing bridge constructions by hauling cargo and an elephant over them. Endless retries available in most of these games allow you to test out theories and consider altered realities.

While most games are single-player and private, the trade-off is a safe and undistracted gaming environment. Ad content varies: Some games have no ads at all, while others begin with commercial videos that cannot be skipped. Also, not every game is perfect: Fracture never loaded, Nuclear Gun sounds awful enough to avoid, and Atomic Puzzle pieces lack much actual resemblance to atoms other than shape (remotely). Needless to say, none have teacher dashboards or ways to track progress.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Most games are engaging in their own unique way: spare yet tricky, charming yet challenging, understandable though busy.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Sugar, Sugar, a fun "how much sugar can you get in the cup" game, exemplifies how a simple concept can still be open-ended and thought-provoking, but many games lack bridges to real-world applications.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
2

For simplicity's sake, the site seems to have limited the options to single-player games with no registration, which means there's no saved data. The site is supported by Engineering.com, which has many other resources.


Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Jeff D. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Millard Elementary School
Fremont, CA
4
Game time = Learning time

I like this site and recommend it as an alternative to some of the video game choices that our students move toward at home. The games are engaging and provide some learning aspect. Be cautious of free choice. Many of the students may get stuck on only going to one or two games and not exploring the variety of opportunities available to them. Getting "stuck" limits their growth opportunities. Use this as an occasional tool and not an every day.

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