Simple Machines

Simple Machines by Tinybop is available in the app store for iOS and is $2.99. It allows children from kindergarten through third grade to explore the simple machines of: a lever, wheel and axle, pulley, inclined plan, screw and wedge. It helps students explore and understand the basics of physics. For each machine, an interactive allows you two make adjustments to the machine and see how it affects the mechanics or force. As an example, for the lever, it takes you to an outside seen and you are trying to knock over a building by adjusting the fulcrum so the load hits in a certain place. By adjusting the fulcrum it allows you to make the load go higher or lower.

Each machine takes you to a different illustration each time. The illustrations are by James Gilleard. They are fun and add an important part to this app—I love the inclined plane because it’s like a pinball machine! The sounds also add a fun element, making the appropriate sounds, like a pinball machine, or a bird noise, and other fun! On certain machines, you can even fall into the water, making it hilarious for younger kids.

The one thing I really do not like about the app is that it contains no text explaining how to play with the different machines. It does however, provide text on what machine you are using, which I think is important (especially for me, since I’m not big on Science)! However, according to School Library Journal there is “A free, downloadable handbook (in seven languages) contains extensive notes on the science behind these machines, tips on using the app with kids, and additional suggested activities.” I did notice that this handbook was not located in the “More Apps” Folder of the app. I finally found it in the “Dashboard” button. Parents can also create a dashboard, which allows them to set and change preference, support their kid’s progress in all of the Tinybop apps. This is where you would find the information to download the handbook, which will further kids knowledge on the simple machines.

I could also see this app being valuable in a school setting. School Library Journal recommends it as a free play game for Science Class. This could also be valuable in libraries, used in junction with their STEM kits; it could also give them ideas for School-Aged Programming! Overall, I think it is fun and informative, perfect for learning the basics of physics. See a trailer for the app here: Simple Machines Trailer.

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