Space, the most recent addition to Tinybop’s “Explorer’s Library,” was released last month, and like the other titles in the series, exploration is the name of the game. Learn more about the company’s philosophy and sandbox approach to learning, and designer Jessie Sattler’s inspirations and challenges creating the app.
Space (Tinybop Inc., iOS, $2.99; Gr 2 Up) introduces children to our solar system through a number of activities. To begin, kids are prompted to select a rocket and enter their name. Menu icons are situated to the left of the screen, where users can choose from various options and settings, including language. They then set their rocket on course to visit a particular celestial body, and interact with it through multiple drag-and-drop activities.
For example, users can deduce what a planet’s temperature is by tossing a snowperson toward it. Does the snowperson melt, remain solid, or sink below the surface when it lands? On gravitational pull and atmosphere: what happens to the boulders tossed toward a planet ? Will they encounter an atmospheric layer and burn? How about a rock thrown toward Uranus’s rings? Kids can also observe planets’ orbits, trigger sunspot flares, watch Curiosity search for water on Mars, create footprints on the Moon’s surface, and compare and contrast the weight of the planets and/or Sun using a virtual balance scale.
Through the app’s dynamic color art— including 3-D images/animations—labels, and play, children learn basic information about the planets and the Sun. (The labeling of the planets’ interior layers, makes it a fantastic resource for those interested in designing science fair dioramas.) However, without in-app instructions, it may take users time to figure out what all the available options are, how to use them, and possibly, the purpose of the activity. For example, children may not understand that the ruler measures each planet’s astronomical unit, or what that unit is. Sounds effects add atmosphere and interest.
For additional information and to extend the learning, parents and teachers can download the extensive Space Handbook on Tinybop’s website. The guide offers information on astronomy and astronomers, definitions, suggestions on what to look for and try in the app, discussion questions, images, and resources. It’s available for free in multiple languages including English. A trailer is also available.—Krista Welz, North Bergen High School Media Center, NJ
For additional app reviews, visit School Library Journal‘s dedicated app webpage.