Autodesk Digital STEAM Applied Mechanics App Poster Image

Autodesk Digital STEAM Applied Mechanics

(i)

 

Learning(i)

Uneven mini-games let kids grapple with mechanics concepts.

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Some of these mini-games are quite challenging -- to the point of frustration -- but offer endless chances for replay. Others are relatively simple. Help comes in the form of scientific information about the principles at play rather than how-tos for solving each level.

Violence

A mouse catapults balls at cats' heads, which explode when hit. In fact, this game has a lot of small explosions when missions fail.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
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Consumerism
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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Autodesk Digital STEAM Applied Mechanics is one of three STEAM -- Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math -- apps from Autodesk, known for many professional-level engineering and architecture products. Though the other two apps are more like interactive textbooks, Applied Mechanics is gamified learning. The mini-games are quite challenging, with no hints available. Kids simply read about scientific principles and use what they've learned to try to win levels. The other apps in the Autodesk Digital STEAM curriculum include Measurement and Visual Design and are designed to introduce kids to science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math. Some of the mini-games in Applied Mechanics include cartoon-like cat-and-mouse violence. 

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • physics
  • engineering
  • energy

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • hypothesis-testing
  • prediction
  • problem solving
  • applying information

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Some of the mini-games are fun and challenging, offering good replay value as kids try and try again. Others may simply frustrate.

Learning Approach

Kids get hands on in mini-games as they apply concepts they've read about. The written text is good overall, but the games aren't interactive and offer no audio support.

Support

There's no score tracking, help, or hints; the point is for kids to figure things out on their own. At best, they may fail, try again, and eventually find success.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • physics
  • engineering
  • energy

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • hypothesis-testing
  • prediction
  • problem solving
  • applying information

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Kids can learn the principles of applied mechanics by reading and examining diagrams about interrelated concepts: energy and work, force, power, loading, and mechanisms. These concepts are essential for understanding how things work as well as for creating solutions, and kids get to apply what they've learned in each mini-game. The text won't necessarily help kids master the games, however. Autodesk Digital STEAM Applied Mechanics can be a fun or frustrating -- or both -- way to learn mechanical concepts.

This Learning Rating review was written by Amanda Bindel

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What's it about?

A taunting cat and crafty mouse lead kids through five mini-games that demonstrate different mechanical principles: Energy & Work, Force, Power, Loading, and Mechanisms. Kids can replay games as many times as they want to, but, even if they don't win, they can move on to other games. Brief instructions introduce each game, and kids can read about the concepts and see diagrams, but there's a lot of trial and error here. In Energy & Work, kids navigate a hot-air balloon using fuel; in Force, they use a catapult to fire balls at an enemy cat; in Power, they try to land a spaceship on the moon; in Loading, they use a crane to load varied weights onto trucks; and in Mechanisms, they navigate a flying machine and collect cheese along the way.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

The difficulty levels of the games in AUTODESK DIGITAL STEAM APPLIED MECHANICS are uneven. Some games are quite challenging, almost to the point of frustration. Players don't get any hints, so kids have to read the scientific explanations in the "learn more" section. They'll try to use what they've learned, and they'll fail. Then they'll try again (and again and again...maybe). They may stop failing to win, but the information they're reading won't necessarily help.

Other games are relatively easy and don't always have good replay value. The app sometimes responds slowly and occasionally crashes. Still, it's free, and overall the mini-games are engaging with well-written explanations of concepts, so it's worth checking out.

Families can talk about...

  • Encourage kids to tinker using available materials to create something useful. Tinkering is a great way to foster creativity and STEAM-oriented thinking.

  • Let them fail. Kids will learn and grow through failed attempts to solve engineering problems.

App details

Device:iPad
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free
Release date:May 16, 2013
Category:Education
Topics:Science and nature
Size:71.00 MB
Publisher:Autodesk Inc.
Version:2.0
Minimum software requirements:iOS 3.2 or later

This review of Autodesk Digital STEAM Applied Mechanics was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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