Autodesk Digital STEAM Applied Mechanics
What parents need to know
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
Thinking & Reasoning
- problem solving
- applying information
- using and applying technology
Engagement, Approach, Support
Some of the mini-games are fun and challenging, offering good replay value as kids try and try again. Others may simply frustrate.
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.
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'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?
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.