Product Review of Play and Learn Engineering
Play and Learn Engineering explores a variety of basic STEM concepts through four pairs of games. Obstacle Course, Roller Coaster, Snack Time, and Boxy Towers each have one open-ended sandbox activity and one guided game. For example, in Robo Builder, kids use a variety of objects to experiment with building a tower. In Kitty Rescue, they must build a tower to a specific height to help the cat get down from a tree branch. In a handful of successive levels, the cat gets higher and higher. A parents’ section offers suggestions for extending learning beyond the screen. Users can easily switch back and forth between English and Spanish by tapping a button on the home screen.
Use Play and Learn Engineering as a playful way to explore simple STEM concepts. To really bring home the learning, though, kids will need some additional input. After they play, check in and talk about the concepts kids explored in the games. There’s no real leveling or progress tracking, so single devices with Play and Learn Engineering can easily be passed around from kid to kid without worrying about user accounts or starting new kids partway through a learning path. Because the games are available in Spanish and English, these games can be useful in classrooms with bilingual kids or ESL Spanish speakers.
The combination of Play and Learn Engineering’s open-ended activities and guided games offers kids a nice opportunity to explore STEM concepts in a variety of settings, even if the content itself doesn’t allow for much depth of learning. The colorful graphics and super-simplified games are very kid friendly. In fact, the games are so watered down that they’ll really appeal only to the youngest kids. Each game explores a different concept, but there are only a few options for kids to experiment with. That is, kids don’t really do all that much in each game, and there’s lots of repeating the same thing and using the same tools, over and over again. Though most of the games are really easy to play, some — like the tower builder — have controls that aren’t very intuitive, which may frustrate kids. Yet overall, Play and Learn Engineering gives a decent — and free — very basic introduction to engineering fun.
Overall User Consensus About the App
Game themes and visuals hit the mark. The limited activities might not hold kids’ interest long-term, though.
Curriculum and Instruction
Kids experiment with STEM concepts through open-ended and guided activities. The games aren’t very complex, and with limited feedback, kids will need off-screen scaffolding.
Simple audio directions show how to play. With no way to track progress or save creations, kids don’t see a learning path. Audio and text (including captions) are available in English and Spanish.