The Fluid Ether

App review by
Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Media
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Fun strategy game with challenging physics concepts.

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

Educational Value

The Fluid Ether is a physics game where players use jets to move objects through an animated aquarium. Players try levels that focus on how density, size, and drag affect movement through fluids. By completing tasks on each level -- like gathering coins or breaking blocks -- players move on to "challenge" levels. Kids also can experiment further by creating their own levels using any elements from the game and creating their own tasks from a lengthy preset list. The Fluid Ether has great potential to teach this often difficult-to-visualize concept, but it could better integrate learning concepts.

Ease of Play

The first level of the game lays out the simple controls and objectives, and gameplay is very intuitive from there. It's possible to bypass the explanatory text on each level, so kids might miss the helpful questions and information that accompany each level.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Fluid Ether is an attractive, engaging physics game that lets kids explore fluid dynamics. It seems that it would be best-used in conversation with kids; there are thought-provoking questions on each level about how and why objects move in certain ways, and kids might understand the game better -- and get the most out of it -- by discussing these questions with a parent or friend.

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What's it about?

In this physics game, players use water jets to move objects through fluid in an animated aquarium. Players advance to higher levels by completing different tasks and experimenting with how density, size, and drag affect movement through fluids. Players also can experiment further by creating their own levels using any elements from the game and creating their own tasks from a lengthy preset list.

Is it any good?

The Fluid Ether's only drawback is that the learning content isn't necessarily integrated within the game; it's possible to play through the levels without reflecting on the greater topics at hand. Without learning the concepts, it's possible that kids may eventually become stuck and lose interest. It's probably best for parents to offer some guidance.

Nevertheless, the gameplay is responsive and intuitive -- kids can instantly see the effects of their actions, and they can correct their choices immediately. For example, in the Drag Challenge level, the goal is to move a ball through a maze without hitting any walls. If players hit a wall, they can easily reset the water jets from their last positions to make slight adjustments. In every level, the objects and animated water jets move like they would in the real world. It's a great way for kids to experiment digitally in a way that's most certainly messier in real life.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Parents can use the Pause button and read the built-in questions aloud. Help kids describe what they're seeing and what they expect to happen when they change certain variables.

  • Encourage kids to build their own levels to experiment further with how objects move under different conditions.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPad
  • Subjects: Science: motion, physics
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: hypothesis-testing, investigation, problem solving, solving puzzles
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Release date: June 26, 2013
  • Category: Educational Games
  • Size: 14.00 MB
  • Version: 1.0
  • Minimum software requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love physics and motion

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