Powerful Plants

App review by
Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Media
Powerful Plants App Poster Image
Snappy tool brings companion book's plant pictures to life.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

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.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

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.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

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What's it about?

POWERFUL PLANTS works in concert with the book Powerful Plants: The Carrot Napping. The book includes pages of information about different plants, interwoven with a story about a kidnapped carrot. There is a play button on the main screen, which takes users to the camera setting. This allows kids to point the device to images in the book, which results in an interactive display of quiz questions followed by an animated and narrated portion of the story. A help option takes users through a brief tutorial for using the app, and an option to "get images" prompts users to enter an email address. 

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of plants as a source of food. What kinds of plants do kids eat during their meals? Where do the plants come from?

  • If possible, plant a vegetable garden or potted vegetable plants with kids.

  • Discuss genetically modified organisms in more detail. Challenge kids to find reliable information sources about GMOs. What are the benefits and drawbacks? Whom can they help and how can they hurt? 

App details

For kids who love science and the outdoors

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