Play and Learn Engineering

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Play and Learn Engineering App Poster Image
Super simplified STEM games are best for young kids.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about basic science and engineering concepts like momentum, tower construction, and simple machines. Kids also problem solve to figure out how to avoid obstacles, move an object from one place to another, or help get a cat down from a tree branch.

Ease of Play

Most games are easy to play though one has some confusing controls.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

A small icon on the home page takes kids to ads for other apps from the same developer. Access to the app stores is parent-gated.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Play and Learn Engineering offers open ended STEM-based for games for preschoolers. Kids can build towers and machines, design the path of a rollercoaster, and use simple machines to clear obstacles in a path. Across eight games, kids experiment with physics, pulleys and levers, momentum, problem solving, and more. A parents' section has extensive suggestions for how to play with your kids and encourage STEM exploration off screen. The games and the parent information are available in both English and Spanish. 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?

Tap the left or right arrow to browse through four game sets in PLAY AND LEARN ENGINEERING. Obstacle Course, Roller Coaster, Boxy Towers, and Snack Time each has one open-ended sandbox activity and one guided game. For example, in Robo Builder, kids use a variety of objects to experiment with building a tower. In Kitty Rescue, they must build a tower to a specific height to help the kitty get down from a tree branch.

Is it any good?

These STEM games are nicely balanced between open ended and guided activities but don't offer much depth of learning. Play and Learn Engineering appeals to kids with colorful graphics and super simplified games. In fact, the games are so watered down that they'll really appeal only to the youngest kids. Each game explores a different concept, but there are only a few options for kids to experiment with. That is, kids don't really do all that much in each game. To really bring home the learning, kids will need some additional input. It's a great help that the parents' section offers some excellent suggestions for how to do just that. Though most of the games are really easy to play, some -- like the tower builder -- have controls that aren't very intuitive, which may frustrate kids. Yet overall, Play and Learn Engineering gives a decent - and free - very basic introduction to engineering fun.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the STEM content in Play and Learn Engineering. How did the pulley help the player get around that obstacle? What kind of machine can you use to guide the sandwich to the bear?

  • Be an active participant in your kid's learning on and off the screen. Build simple obstacle courses and stack blocks in your living room. Read the suggestions in the parents' section for more ideas on how to encourage STEM learning. 

  • It's hard to turn off the screen when your having fun. Make your family's rules and guidelines clear before handing over your device.  

App details

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