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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that SimpleRockets is a physics game in which kids explore a virtual solar system called "smolar system" by building and launching rockets. Kids can create their own rockets with designs ranging from basic to complex, freely explore solar system planets in sandbox mode, and participate in flying, orbiting, and landing competitions in challenge mode. While teaching kids about engineering and physics, the game promotes creativity and the important scientific concept of trial and error.
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What's it about?
In SIMPLEROCKETS, kids start with training sessions, which guide them through the basics for designing, building, flying, and orbiting rockets. Then, they can choose to freely explore in sandbox mode or compete with others in challenge mode. The first step is for kids to build a rocket by dragging parts into place. The rocket should have enough parts for it to successfully complete a task. For example, the first task in challenge mode is for kids to launch a rocket that will simply fly upward for at least 100 kilometers in altitude. A rocket for this task does not need much more than an engine, command pod, and fuel tank. A more challenging task is to launch a rocket that orbits a planet and lands using a parachute. For this challenge, a rocket needs a more complex design. Once kids build their rockets, they're ready to either explore planets in sandbox mode or tackle missions in challenge mode. Some of the challenges include flying a small, low-fuel rocket as far as possible, traveling at the fastest speed possible, and safely docking with a satellite.
Is it any good?
SimpleRockets gives kids an excellent opportunity to explore rocket design and orbital physics. The training section is detailed enough that even kids with little experience can get a good start. It can be great fun for kids to watch their rockets launch into orbit and successfully complete tasks. Launching the rockets is easy, but kids have to use touch controls such as buttons and a rotating circle, or "steering wheel," to steer their rockets. Using these controls can be difficult and takes some practice. But once they get the hang of things, kids will feel empowered as their rockets blast into space and possibly earn a top spot on the leaderboards. Some of the more difficult challenges could benefit from hints or mini-tutorials to help kids who struggle or feel overwhelmed.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about trying again. Encourage kids to keep trying if their rockets are unsuccessful. Kids aren't penalized for repeated attempts to launch, orbit, and land their rockets.
Look online together to find designs of real rockets. Compare them to the designs kids create in the app.
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
- Subjects: Science: engineering, astronomy, gravity, physics
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: investigation, problem solving, thinking critically
- Price: $2.99 (with in-app purchases)
- Pricing structure: Paid (Additional rocket skins are available as in-app purchases.)
- Release date: February 16, 2014
- Category: Education
- Size: 19.40 MB
- Publisher: Jundroo, LLC
- Version: 1.5.6
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 4.3 or later
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