Marine Missions

App review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
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Easy missions for the youngest Jacques Cousteau wannabes.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn the very basics about pollution problems in the oceans, such as garbage and oil spills, while playing with Marine Missions. They also can learn the names of the world's oceans as well as some of their unique characteristics, such as blowholes and tidal bores. Using the Creature Builder tool, kids can engage in creative play and learn about real sea animals. Marine Missions delivers fun, sea-level learning about ocean conservation for young kids.

Ease of Play

Very easy to play. Clear verbal and visual instructions. Once a player understands the basic idea of the main games, each mission is similarly structured. The Creature Builder activity gives kids lots of direction ("Let's add some details to your sea creature") to help young users create with all the options. Parents can find written instructions for some activities under the "For Families" tab.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

There's a National Geographic Kids logo on the main screen. A link under the "For Families" tab moves users out of the app and onto the National Geographic Kids website, where kids will see ads for the subscription-based magazine of the same name.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Marine Missions promotes ocean conservation through fun mini-missions and activities. It encourages very young app users to think about what humans need to do to clean up the world's oceans. Through a few very simple games that encourage kids to pick up trash in the on-screen ocean or swipe up oil spills, kids get the essential messages about what pollutes our oceans. The Creature Builder activity lets kids design a silly combo-animal by choosing from many comics-style sea creature parts. There are also some basic sea animal facts and photos. Nothing too deep in these waters, but just enough information and engaging play to set young kids sailing into ocean conservation. 

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What's it about?

In MARINE MISSIONS, kids choose the first challenge by tilting (or tapping) the iPad to move a boat on the screen to a spot on the map. In one mission, kids tap trash to toss it into a recycling bin and swipe to clean up an oil spill. In another, they swipe or tilt the screen to move a cute hermit crab over blowholes to recapture his mask. The Creature Builder provides many choices for making a pretend sea animal, and kids also can see photos with real sea life. This app offers uncomplicated lessons about how pollution affects the ocean and its creatures.

Is it any good?

Marine Missions is a fun way for very young kids to learn the most simple ideas for ocean conservation. For example, trash and oil are bad for oceans. Kids also can have some fun making silly, imaginative sea animals and learning about ocean creatures. The challenges, such as "Clean Up" and "Blowhole," require kids to perform very simple tasks such as picking up trash or moving a cute hermit crab over blowholes when they aren't spouting to recapture his mask. The Creature Builder creative activity includes dozens of options for kids to create a new creature based on a real sea creature, such as a sea star, a shark, or a sea snake.

While the beautiful map and voice instruction help kids learn the names and locations of the different oceans and continents, kids aren't going to learn a lot of details or find great academic challenge on this app. Marine Missions is more about helping kids start to think about marine ecology through small waves of fun and creative play.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Navigate through the app to help your kid find the (somewhat buried but useful) information and photos of sea animals.

  • Discuss what your family can do to help keep the oceans clean and safe for sea animals.

  • Set up a family recycling program.

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love learning and science

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