- Brings the night sky to life
- Colorful, appealing interface
- Astronomy information that's just right for K-3
- Not enough information for older children
- Would benefit from a user guide
The newly released Star Walk Kids – Astronomy for Children is a child-sized version of Vito Technology’s award winning astronomy app, Star Walk. By redesigning the Star Walk app with children in mind the developers have created a terrific educational app for young stargazers.
Using the iDevice’s gyroscope, Star Walk Kids allows children to view the sky above in an entirely new way. As they move their device the app’s display moves with them, allowing them to see the night sky on the screen.
Constellations are easily spotted by their outlines, drawn as figures that children can recognize. I appreciated this feature because beginning astronomers may find it difficult to imagine how the stars line up to create a bear, crab or fish, etc. I find that tricky myself so the feature was helpful for me! After they have located a constellation on the screen children can give it a tap to take a closer look and learn some basic facts. Some constellations also include informational videos. Children can also tap on the individual stars within the constellation and learn about them.
Stars aren’t the only thing to be found in the sky and the planets, sun and moon are here too. Children will even be able to find the Hubble Satellite and the International Space Station (ISS). The app uses the current location and will display where they are positioned in the sky at that point of time. Very cool!
A quick tap on a main screen search button will bring up the solar system, constellations, stars, Hubble Satellite and ISS. From here children can easily access the basic information and current sky locations. An additional button on the main screen will display the objects’ future and past movements in the sky.
Older children, and those who are already familiar with astronomy, may find that Star Walk Kids doesn’t contain quite enough to satisfy their curiosity. They may be likely to already know the basic information presented here. Adding additional facts and videos would boost the app’s appeal for the older crowd. A user guide or simple demonstration of the app’s features would also be a helpful future update. That being said, I believe that Star Walk Kids is an extremely well-crafted astronomy tool that will appeal to, and educate, children in grades K-3.