NASA NeMO-Net

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
NASA NeMO-Net App Poster Image
Learn about ocean life, help scientists map the ocean floor.

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

Educational Value

Kids learn about ocean life and different kinds of coral as they help NASA improve artificial intelligence.

Ease of Play

Tutorial walks kids through the how-tos, but successfully labeling the coral requires good finger coordination.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that NASA NeMO-Net is an educational game for all ages that uses the classification work of the game to improve NASA's neural network that monitors the health of coral reefs around the world. Kids do not have to share any personal information to play. They're assigned a random username, and kids can reroll if they want to try a different name. They do have to complete a tutorial with 90 percent accuracy to be able to proceed into the game, so they need to have pretty strong finger coordination to color the coral within the lines and differentiate different ocean forms. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

After training and receiving their NASA NEMONET mission via video from marine biologist and National Geographic explorer-in-residence Dr. Sylvia Earle, kids command a research vessel into the ocean depths. There they learn about different types of coral, and then paint on the touch screen the 3D images, classifying each type of marine formation with a different color. Kids then choose if they submit their work or not, earning XP. Eventually, they'll give feedback on other submissions, all to help create a global data set to help scientists save the dying reefs.

Is it any good?

This incredible opportunity to contribute to science and work with NASA is more noble and educational than fun. Kids manipulate the 3D images in NASA NeMO-Net to make sure they paint over every detail, so it's a detailed process but not too challenging. It's almost meditative. Earning badges and XP will motivate kids to keep working and earn more responsibility. The educational information about each type of coral requires some reading, but images are included. Considering how this simple activity can truly help NASA is mind-boggling. It would take scientists two million years to classify all of the reefs without this technology. Contributing to a real-life science project while coloring might be enough for some kids, but others might be disappointed in the simple task. But if they know what to expect, kids who are into it will get to contribute to citizen science!

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how NASA NeMo-Net uses crowd sourcing to improve artificial intelligence. Kids are actually making the neural network mapping the ocean floor smarter the more they play. Read more about how it works here.

  • Visit a coastal national park to learn more about coral reefs or visit the National Park Service website to see pictures and learn more about preservation.

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love biology and science

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