Sector 33

Common Sense Media says

Challenging NASA game tests math, problem-solving skills.

Age(i)

2
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5
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8
9
10
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12
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17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Navigation is easy, and the help feature provides plenty of instructions for using all features of the app. 

Violence
Not applicable
Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

You're not required to submit personally identifiable information. The app has links to social media, but using them is strictly optional. There's no privacy policy readily accessible, and policy on NASA's website appears to apply to the website only, not apps.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Sector 33 is an air-traffic-control game that challenges kids to use their mathematical and critical-thinking skills. Kids are given a virtual radar screen and must use factors such as speed and route controls to merge arriving planes into a single traffic lane. Success relies on knowledge of the relationships among distance, rate, and time. The games are both challenging and fun, and kids will feel empowered as they make decisions and hear the voice of a pilot acknowledging those decisions. Because of the unique setting, most kids will be unfamiliar with the tasks at hand and should take time to review the introduction and help features. 

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • addition
  • algebra
  • estimation
  • multiplication
  • ratio

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • thinking critically
  • analyzing evidence
  • applying information
  • decision-making
  • problem solving
  • strategy

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

The realistic radar screen and pilot responses will draw kids in, and the task of safely landing planes will keep their interest. Every problem involves the same general flight area, so a bit more variety would be nice.   

Learning Approach

Problems increase in difficulty, general feedback is immediate, and kids can try an unlimited number of times to solve each problem. Kids build problem-solving skills they can apply to other situations. 

Support

A tutorial and an introductory video help kids get started. The NASA website has plenty of additional resources including videos, help guides, and supporting lesson plans.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • addition
  • algebra
  • estimation
  • multiplication
  • ratio

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • thinking critically
  • analyzing evidence
  • applying information
  • decision-making
  • problem solving
  • strategy

Kids can learn how to apply the relationships among distance, rate, and time to solve problems. Kids have to analyze the flight paths of two or more planes and determine how to get the planes to merge into a single path and land within a safe distance from each other. The key is to figure out whether to change a plane's flight path (distance) or rate and by how much. If kids change one factor by too much or too little, the planes will not land efficiently. Sector 33 is a fun and unique way to get kids to use problem-solving skills and apply math to real-world scenarios.

This Learning Rating review was written by Debbie Gorrell

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Kids say

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What's it about?

SECTOR 33 is a challenging game that aims to connect math and problem solving to the real world. The game includes four levels of learning with a total of 35 problems, a tutorial, and a handful of useful tips. After users tap "Play," the game takes them directly to a problem with a simulated radar screen, which shows the starting positions of the airplanes, their flight paths, and their flight times. The goal is to get all the planes to merge into a single lane and land within two miles of each other. Kids decide whether to adjust the planes' flight paths or speeds. They can do this by calculating each plane's arrival time based on the given data. Then kids tap a button, and the planes begin to travel. At this point, changes can be made, and kids can see the results as the planes merge into the single lane and arrive at their destinations. Points are awarded for each successful landing.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Sector 33 is a unique way for kids to put their math and problem-solving skills to the test. The realistic radar screens and pilot voice responses will empower kids as they work to safely and efficiently land planes. Kids see immediate results with a brief explanation of any errors and can try an unlimited number of times to improve their scores. Unless they've had experience with a simulated flight-control game, kids may not immediately understand how to approach the problems. Viewing the tutorial and introduction video are good ways to get started, and NASA offers plenty of excellent online resources. Overall, Sector 33 is a fun way to get kids interested in using math to solve real-world problems and may truly inspire kids who have an interest in an aeronautics-related career. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about extending learning opportunities. Visit NASA's Smart Skies website and explore the "LineUp With Math" lessons with kids, which are designed to support Sector 33 learning goals. 

  • Have kids use the "create" button in the app's play mode to create and solve their own flight problems.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free
Release date:January 30, 2014
Category:Education
Size:13.20 MB
Publisher:NASA
Version:2.0
Minimum software requirements:iOS 5.0 or later; Android 2.2 and up

This review of Sector 33 was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written byEvensmaxTV June 12, 2014
AGE
12
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

Sector 33

sector 33
What other families should know
Easy to play/use
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism

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