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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this app.
Kids can learn about plants and the environment. As they read the book and use the app, they discover the scientific names of several plants, the habitats in which they grow, some of their practical uses, and more. Though the book is informative, some of the science is presented from a definitive point of view (for example, genetically modifying food is entirely negative). Also, some kids may find the text-heaviness and abrupt transitions between the narrative and facts off-putting. Powerful Plants pulls out the stops to inject life into botany and likely will capture the imaginations of many kids; smoother transitions and some refinement would probably entice even more to learn about, grow, and perhaps even eat their vegetables.
Ease of Play
Using the camera to bring pages of the book to life is easy. Navigating from the camera back to the main screen isn't possible and requires that the app be closed and restarted.
Violence & Scariness
The fictional story includes evil, kidnapping characters. Younger kids may find some of the plant animations to be a bit creepy.
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Products & Purchases
The app is not functional without the purchase of the book, which promotes the developer's seed products and free contests that require users to provide their email addresses.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Powerful Plants is a companion app that must be used in conjunction with the book Powerful Plants: The Carrot Napping. In the story, Daucus, the lovable talking carrot, has been kidnapped and taken to an experimental lab where he's about to be genetically modified and other plant characters try to save Daucus. As kids read the book, the text prompts them to point their devices at certain pictures, which activates questions that kids must answer to unlock augmented-reality animations of the plant characters. Some information about scientific processes -- such as creating GMO food -- comes from a definitive point of view that parents may or may not agree with.
Is It Any Good?
Powerful Plants was obviously created to inspire kids to learn, and it definitely succeeds in creating a unique, interactive experience. Kids who read the book will learn a lot about plants and likely will be engaged by the fictional story. The augmented-reality animations are very well designed and really seem to bring the plants to life, and if you choose to buy the seed packets, you can extend the experience even further. However, the act of switching back and forth between the book and the app can sometimes be awkward, and the text frequently switches between scientific information about plants and the fictional story about Daucus the kidnapped carrot, which may be confusing for some kids. More seamless transitions in both the app and book would make the experience accessible and appealing to more kids. Also, be aware that though the app is free, the book is $19.95 and it's necessary to use the app.
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