1/23/14 UPDATE: PiiiG Labs has just released an update to their app with 4 new kits that are now included with the purchase of the app: a rainbow volcano, transistor radio, a walkie talkie and a theremin. These kits are the same concept as the ones that were previously included with kids taking the pieces of these items and placing them in the correct places to build the item or create a reaction. The one new kit that really appealed to my kids was the walkie talkies. Once the walkie talkie is built, kids can record their own voices using the microphone in your iPad and “communicate” with an animated kid from the app on the other end. I appreciate the new kits and I think it makes the price a bit more reasonable. I still stand by my original review in that I wish there were more basic explanations of WHY these scientific concepts work to provide more of an educational experience and not just a puzzle matching-type experience.
I bought my 5 year old son a chemistry set for Christmas. I know, I’m a little crazy. He informs me at least weekly that he wants to be a scientist when he grows up and he is fascinated by discovering how things work, so I thought “why not?” I’ll admit, now that I’ve had time to bring it home and look at it the buyer’s remorse has set in as I see what is involved and mainly, the mess that will be created while he is “discovering” with it. What if he could learn science, do experiments, and have fun WITHOUT the mess? Well, he can, with PiiiG Labs!
This app was obviously created for those science-loving kids but with mom’s in mind. With this app, kids can participate in 6 interactive science experiments all on your iPad. Your young scientists can learn how to complete a circuit to turn on a light bulb or build a working radio. They can experiment with colors and color mixing by changing the color of the lava in an exploding baking soda and vinegar volcano. They can learn essential skills like trial and error by matching animal sounds to the correct animal. All of the activities are fun, mess-free, and perfect for preschoolers through first or second graders. It is a great way to introduce the fascinating concepts of science to young children and get them excited about learning how things work.
There are several things that are great about this app. First of all, I appreciate how kid-friendly it is. The activities are easy enough for children to complete independently or with a parent or teacher. The experiments cover a wide-range of scientific subjects like chemistry, physics, zoology and electricity. The illustrations are bright, colorful and appealing to children, yet realistic looking enough that kids can recognize the items they are using and perhaps even point out that they can be found around their own house. I also thought the developers did a great job choosing experiments that address concepts that children often ask about like “How does the switch turn on my light or my radio?”
One thing that I thought was lacking was some sort of basic explanation or tutorial about the experiments and how the items the children used combined to create a reaction. For example, in the “Light Switch” activity, children can match the wires, battery and switch to the correct places and complete the circuit but there is no explanation given about conducting electricity and how the battery and wires combine to make the light come on. I know that for my children at least, they would have fun matching the pieces and creating the reaction but they would also want to know WHY it worked that way. Also, I thought the price was a little high for only 6 activities. The iTunes store does indicate that two more activities are yet to come; however, for the price they charge for the app, I would like to see either constant updates with new experiments or a larger selection. Once my kids had done all of the activities a couple of times, they were kind of bored of the app.
All in all, I thought this app was mediocre. I think the concept behind this app is spot-on. It is a great way to introduce kids to scientific subjects and get them thinking about how things around them work. However, without explanations or education about the concepts I think it fails to really teach kids about science. It is more of a puzzle-type game where they must tap and drag the parts to the appropriate spot on the screen. Also, I think it is a little bit overpriced for what is included. If I was going to recommend this app to anyone, I would say it would be a good app for parents of preschool aged kids who want just a basic introduction to science. If you are looking for more than that, you’d better look elsewhere.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this app for review purposes.