Circuit Jam

App review by
Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Media
Circuit Jam App Poster Image
Lab simulation challenges with puzzles, allows invention.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about electrical circuits and energy flow by playing with components to generate electrical signals. Puzzles become increasingly difficult as kids progress, which may keep kids engaged longer if they don't get frustrated. Kids get instant visual feedback as they work with the circuits, but some hints could help guide kids who struggle to solve the puzzles. The sandbox mode is a great opportunity for kids to replicate and test their own circuit problems or freely experiment with circuit building. Though a little more instructional guidance and help would be great, Circuit Jam is a fun and challenging way for budding engineers to explore electricity, circuits, and problem solving.

Ease of Play

Some instructions are included with the puzzles, and manipulating the interactive components is easy. Instructions for using the sandbox mode are lacking.

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Consumerism

The first set of puzzles is free; the rest must be unlocked by a one-time in-app purchase. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Circuit Jam is a simulation game based on principles of energy flow through circuits. Kids are challenged to complete puzzles in which they have to modify circuits to generate electronic signals of a given shape. Kids can also use a sandbox mode to build their own circuits using components that they unlock after completing the puzzles. The first set is free, and the remaining puzzles are available as an in-app purchase.  For details about the kind of information the app collects and shares, read the privacy policy.

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What's it about?

CIRCUIT JAM is a unique mix of lab simulation and gameplay. Kids get to experiment in a virtual lab-like setting while solving puzzles and unlocking components for the sandbox mode. Puzzles are arranged in the following categories, depending on the type of challenge they present: Current, Voltage, Resistor, Ohm's Law, and Capacitor. Each category includes several puzzles that must be unlocked in sequential order. For example, in the first puzzle, kids have to simply close a switch within a circuit to generate a constant electronic signal. In later puzzles, they have to toggle switches to generate fluctuating signals, add current by connecting current sources in parallel, and divide current by adding multiple parallel branches within a circuit. The first set of puzzles is free, but the remaining ones must be purchased. In sandbox mode, kids can build and test circuits using components such as resistors, capacitors, lamps, switches, voltage sources, and more.

Is it any good?

Although instructional content is lacking, this is an excellent way for kids to safely experiment with circuits while they engage with challenging puzzles. The game doesn't include background information, so kids should have a basic understanding of circuits and related concepts such as voltage, current, resistance, and Ohm's law. The visual virtual setting and visual feedback are great tools for teaching kids how to test, redesign, and retest their ideas. Some detailed hints and instructional support could give the game's learning value a boost.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about real-world examples of electrical circuits. How do they work?

  • Discuss the pros and cons of using a lab simulation to experiment with circuits.

  • If possible, gather some basic materials and build a circuit together. It could be as simple as connecting a battery, wires, and a lightbulb in a series circuit. Talk about components that could be added to the circuit and how they would affect energy flow.

App details

  • Device: Android
  • Subjects: Science: engineering, electricity, energy
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: investigation, problem solving, solving puzzles, thinking critically
  • Price: Free; $2.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid, Free (Free for first set of puzzles; $2.99 in-app purchase to unlock all puzzles)
  • Release date: July 10, 2015
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 6.30 MB
  • Publisher: MuseMaze
  • Version: 1.01
  • Minimum software requirements: Android 2.2 and up

For kids who love circuits

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