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Review by Kristina Duncan, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2014

Zamzee

Unique activity meter and snappy website make exercise fun

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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: The highly engaging program is sure to keep kids interested, and the promise of real rewards helps to motivate.

Cons: The meter isn't waterproof, could be easy to lose, and doesn't track all types of activities.

Bottom Line: Zamzee delivers a kid-centered, fun, and easy motivational fitness program for use in a variety of settings.

Zamzee is best used for health and PE classes but could also be used in a science class (for example, in student-designed experiments). Once students activate their meters, teachers can easily set up classes and add students. From there, teachers can see all the data for each class -- average minutes for the group, uploads, challenges, and so on. Data is displayed graphically and can be exported in various formats, making it easier to compare classes and groups of kids. Teachers can also look at individual data versus the average for the group. This might be helpful in making sure all kids are participating and progressing toward their goals.  

Any 25-group purchase includes the Zamzee curriculum with lessons, games, and worksheets for a 12-week class. Topics include getting to know Zamzee, health, body image, fitness, and reaching goals. The lesson plans are detailed and structured and include pacing, lists of objectives, materials, instructions, tips for success, and related Web resources.

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Editor's Note: Zamzee has been acquired by the Welltok company. Now part of Welltok's "CaféWell Health Optimization Platform," Zamzee is currently only available for select members.

Zamzee is an online fitness program -- using a website-integrated activity tracker -- that aims to help tweens, teens, and families become more active. Zamzee can be used in schools, hospitals, and camps or a variety of other settings. To use it, kids need the Zamzee meter, a computer, and a downloadable software plug-in.

More than a simple pedometer, the Zamzee meter tracks a variety of types of movement. Although it's effective for most activities, it's not waterproof and must be placed near the hip. Parents and teachers can set up group accounts to help monitor multiple kids. Within the online experience, a little alien-esque character named Zed is the moderator for each user. He tells them when they've uploaded points and met their goals and challenges, and he gives activity tips.

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As a motivational site, Zamzee does a lot to keep kids interested and coming back for more. The site is colorful and kid-friendly; kids can create an avatar and earn badges for completing tasks. Data is easily displayed in graphs and posted to the social media-like Web page, although kids can’t directly contact anyone or exchange personal information; they can, however, search for challenges and rewards, or post about the activities they’re doing.

In the Zamzee reward system, kids earn points for the amount of activity they do, with more points for longer or more vigorous activity. Kids can take on challenges or goals to help them earn Zamz (virtual money), which they can use to buy rewards (virtual items or real items sent by mail). While the system is likely more complex, the site seems to favor improvement. In short, increased activity means more points, which means more potential rewards. A lot of kids' initial motivation comes from more extrinsic rewards. However, the creators of Zamzee hope that, over time, kids will develop a love of exercise from which they'll make a more intrinsic connection. In the meantime, they'll probably have fun picking rewards (an Xbox, anyone?) and challenges and coming up with creative ways to earn points.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
5

Zamzee motivates kids to increase their activity to earn points toward virtual and real rewards. The site is vibrant, with numerous activity challenges. It’s really easy for kids to see their activity level and progress toward goals.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Kids can pick challenges, see daily activity, and earn rewards. The site empowers kids (and families) to be more active, but a bit more integration of health and fitness information into the user pages would be a plus.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
5

In-depth FAQs on how to use Zamzee are provided. Kids and teachers can easily see progress toward their goals and graphs of daily activity. A Zamzee blog addresses many health and fitness topics.


Common Sense Reviewer
Kristina Duncan Classroom teacher