Website review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated August 2014

Space Racers

Engaging cartoons, uneven science content launch kids into outer space

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
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Based on 1 review
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Grades
Pre-K–2 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
Science, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Kids are encouraged to work together to observe and investigate space.

Cons: Not all of Space Racers' tools are focused on students learning.

Bottom Line: Space Racers cartoons and lesson plans focus on teamwork and scientific investigation.

It's best to use Space Racers' videos in conjunction with the provided lesson plans. Starling Discovers the Moon is used as a closing activity in the Moon Phases Lesson Plan. This is an effective way to review what kids learn with their Oreo Cookie Moons and Moon Phase Flip Book. Alternatively, you could use some of the videos as hooks at the beginning of class.

For early-elementary students, these cartoons can work well for whole-class instruction. If kids are using the site individually be sure to have them use headphones, as the audio from multiple devices could get quite noisy.

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Space Racers is a website based on a series of animated shorts aimed at early-elementary aged kids. Produced in conjunction with American Public Television and the PBS affiliate, Maryland Public Television, episodes are provided for free on the site, along with lesson plans and a related game. Kids can learn to identify phases of the moon, planets, shapes, and constellations. Short Space Racers cartoons emphasize scientific investigation and teamwork in a way that keeps the attention of early learners.

Young students will love Space Racers for its exciting and appealing animated episodes. Videos like Starling Discovers the Moon, are an excellent resource for young scientists. The video, clearly addresses a common misconception among students; that light comes directly from the sun. Many of these episodes can help kids understand their own out-of-this-world experiences -- they're also lots of fun to watch. Other videos on the site highlight scientific processes, as characters like Starling make observations and collect data to answer questions.

However, some Space Racers episodes might come up a bit more short on science. Simple Re-Quest, for example, reviews basic shapes, but doesn't teach a lot about space. The music video Gravity has a catchy tune, but it simply splices together lots of examples of gravity, without much context. The Games menu could use some more additions, with only one game and some downloadable coloring pages. The Space Collectors game is entertaining, but may builds kids’ eye-hand coordination more than their scientific understanding. Some more game alternatives -- with more science baked into kids' gameplay -- would be a welcome addition.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

Kids will love how the characters Eagle and Robyn work with their friends to figure out scientific puzzles. Beyond the cute cartoons, the site capitalizes on students’ fascination with stuff that's out of this world.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Lessons plans have clear learning goals and connect activities and cartoons cohesively. Some episodes offer kids more science-related learning than others. The site's only featured game doesn't integrate much learning.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

Titles are read aloud when kids hover over them with a mouse. For teachers, the lesson plans are detailed with plenty of supporting resources.


Common Sense reviewer
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

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Featured review by
Adrienne D. , Early childhood provider
Early childhood provider
Fun and Educational
My overall opinion about this product as a teaching tool is that it is wonderful! It offers a variety of activities and lesson that are age appropriate and developmentally sound. One activity I enjoyed teaching, although I thought it would be to advanced for my students, was the Moon Phases. The website offered a flip book that helps the students see the change of the moon and are able to compare the changes and note the differences. I think there could a wider variety and other resources that can help ...
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