How to Make Electricity

App review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
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Experiment with virtual electricity; some guidance needed.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn the basics about how chemical, hydro, thermal, and solar electric power works by showing them some objects that help conduct and measure electric power, including solar panels, magnets, copper, voltmeters, and more. As they explore, kids can see how elements are affected by variables such as wind and even birds and see how electrons move through a circuit.

Ease of Play
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that How to Make Electricity is an app for kids that includes a virtual science lab for free-play experimenting with chemical, hydro, thermal, and solar electric power. The four types of power are split into four lab "rooms" where kids can experiment with power sources. Each lab room includes a brief tutorial before kids continue onto the free-play activity. There's a parents' guide that can be very useful for further learning and safety reminders. Parents: Remind your kids that real-life experiments with electricity can be extremely dangerous, and kids should not attempt them without a knowledgeable adult assisting them. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the types information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

Watch as the talking crayon box in HOW TO MAKE ELECTRICITY invites you to the electricity generation lab and gives instructions on what to do next. In the first lab, kids learn how to make a battery out of a fork, a nail, and a glass of Coke. Next, kids go into the lab to conduct that experiment and use a voltmeter to check it. Tap on the top-left icon to see how the electrons run through the wires. Once that's complete, players go onto the exploring the concept through free play. Activities in the lab include four sections: chemical (Lab 1), hydro (Lab 2), thermal (Lab 3), and solar (Lab 4). A parents' guide offers some rationale and explanation of concepts. Kids can opt to view labels of items and read the discovery clipboard to get more information.

Is it any good?

Using magnets, forks, pickles, and potatoes to help kids learn about electricity makes this app visually dynamic and fun, but kids may need help to get the most out of it. With a lot of choices in How to Make Electricity, it's easy to keep kids engaged while they free-experiment with circuits, solar panels, and water pumps. One of the best things about it is that the screen provides an experience that many kids may not have offscreen. That said, unless a parent digs into the Parents' Guide, there's very little deep learning here; the app itself without adult guidance is mainly about playing around with the big concepts. It may be hard for some kids to figure out how to navigate, experiment, read the explanations, and really make sense of it all. To get the most out of this app, read the Parents' Guide, which offers options for questions, discussion topics, and experiments for parents and kids to play together.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how experimenting with electricity in How to Make Electricity is very different from experimenting with it in real life. In the parents' guide, the developers suggest the discussion question "You should never touch wires with wet hands. Can you explain why?"

  • Discuss what your kid sees in "science view" and what electrons are.

  • Check out the parents' guide for more ideas on how to dig deeper into the topic of electricity with your kids.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Subjects: Science: electricity, energy, substance properties
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: deduction, hypothesis-testing, investigation, part-whole relationships
  • Price: $2.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Release date: December 22, 2016
  • Category: Education
  • Topics: STEM
  • Size: 119.00 MB
  • Publisher: Crayon Box Inc.
  • Version: 2.1
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 6.0 or later
  • Last updated: March 17, 2020

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