Rough Science

App review by
Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Media
Rough Science App Poster Image
Tool has potential but lacks interactivity and depth.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about Earth's layers, states of matter, and evolutionary adaptations. Each topic is presented with a short video that is cleverly narrated and includes some rudimentary, yet effective, demonstrations. After watching a video, kids can try an activity, which is called a "creative challenge." Kids will enjoy taking photographs for two of the challenges, but the connection between interacting with the app and learning is weak. Rough Science has potential, but the activities are basic, lack progression, and can be done without using the app.

Ease of Play

Command buttons are easy to use, and written instructions are clear. 

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism

There's a link to get a free teacher handbook, which takes users to the app store. At the time of this review, the link did not work, and the handbook could not be found in the app store. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rough Science is an educational tool that exposes kids to Earth, physical, and life science topics. Overall, the product is extremely basic. There are three brief videos, and each includes a follow-up activity. The videos are informative, and the narrator is entertaining. However, the activities are not impressive and can easily be done without using the app.  

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What's it about?

ROUGH SCIENCE exposes kids to three different, yet very specific, science topics. The developers state that the content covers Australian curricula for years five and six, which translates to age 10 to 12. Kids learn a bit about Earth science, physical science, and life science. For Earth science, kids watch a video about Earth's layers. Then they complete an activity by drawing pictures of the layers, taking photographs of their drawings, and dragging labels to show the layers. For physical science, kids watch a video about the three main states of matter. In the follow-up activity, kids take photographs that they find around their house or school showing water as a solid, liquid, and gas. This can be confusing for kids, since it's difficult to capture a photograph of water as a gas. For life science, kids watch a video about evolution and adaptations. The follow-up activity requires kids to research a real-world example of evolution by natural selection and enter their notes in a digital notebook.

Is it any good?

Rough Science has potential, and kids will enjoy watching the videos. The content is presented in an engaging and age-appropriate way, and the narrator's humor makes science seem less intimidating for kids who struggle. Unfortunately, there isn't much substance to the follow-up activities, and kids don't get to interact much with the app. Parents who are looking for a strong connection to learning likely will be disappointed. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the videos they watch together. Encourage further discussion of key vocabulary words.

  • Have kids choose one topic from the videos and write an illustrated story with a fictional main character. Make sure the story includes accurate and relevant scientific content. 

App details

  • Device: iPad
  • Subjects: Science: biology, geology, substance properties
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: memorization
    Creativity: making new creations
  • Price: $2.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Release date: June 2, 2013
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 173.00 MB
  • Publisher: Deeper Richer
  • Version: 1.0
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 5.0 or later

For kids who love science

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