Product Review of Sound Rebound
Made by the Exploratorium, a science museum known for its high-quality and immersive exhibits, Sound Rebound is a sandbox-style app that focuses on inquiry-based learning. It encourages learners to play with sound and movement through fixed and rotating elements as well as balls and other objects. Students design systems that cause the balls to bounce, bump, ricochet, and spin, creating musical notes with each hit. Four colors of objects each have a different musical sound, and combining those colored objects creates an original sound. Students investigate the combination of seeing and hearing, cause and effect, and playing with objects as they fall and flow in an ever-changing environment of two-dimensional shapes.
Students can begin with one of the included playfields, open a saved playfield, or start from scratch. After picking and placing objects, learners can change the object color to change the sounds made on contact. Students can decide which shapes are to be static and which can rotate by placing a pivot point on the shape. Objects can also be rotated, moved, deleted, or changed in size. A special object can drop balls at a steady pace, or learners can manually drop balls anywhere in the system. They can also drop barbells; squares, which don’t make noise; lighted balls, which create light and shadow that interplay with the placed objects; and balls with rainbow-colored, comet-like tails. There’s also a special shape that absorbs the falling objects, removing them from the system.
With Sound Rebound, there are many ways to approach playing and learning: Students can be given an objective (collect all the balls after making a certain number of notes, for example); use the app in freeform play; or can design an elaborate machine to deal with the deluge of falling balls.
Teachers can challenge their learners to create their own pinball or pachinko machines or to create songs and beats utilizing the different sound colors and objects. By setting the app to tilt mode, learners also can create a musical maze they can then challenge each other to navigate, where the goal is to play as few notes as possible. Use your imagination in this open-ended musical playground.
Students of all ages — and even some adults — can play with Sound Rebound, but it will be most engrossing for its intended audience, those about age 9 to 11. Students younger than that may get frustrated with the interface, and older learners and adults may grow bored. In general, this app allows learning through play, but educators can create more structure for the learning that can address achieving goals, cause and effect, critical thinking, and musical expression. With different colored pieces making different sounds, learners begin to associate color with sound, which can be an interesting mental exercise. Since there is no reading involved, it’s also good for learners with low literacy.
This app is a fantastic environment for exploration and experimentation, but it has a few drawbacks. There doesn’t seem to be a way to pause the action, and it can be difficult to delete or move an item without accidentally adding a new one instead. So, it may take learners some practice to get a feel for it.
Overall User Consensus About the App
The game pulls in learners who like to play in a sandbox environment. Adding colors, different kinds of sounds, and interesting physics-oriented objects creates a fun opportunity to experiment.
Curriculum and Instruction
This game’s appeal is all in the experimentation; by placing and interacting with objects, and by dropping balls and other shapes to bounce off those objects, learners create music in fun and interesting ways.
The first time learners start the app, the help video plays, giving a tour of the app tools and functionality. Students can replay the video, but there is no additional help.