A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Universe Sandbox is not necessarily a game. It's more a sophisticated visualization and simulation tool that helps players understand astronomy and astrophysics by letting them manipulate planetary and stellar objects in a variety of ways.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
UNIVERSE SANDBOX is not a game with a story or characters. Rather, it's a 3-D simulation of our universe, accurately modeling it on many levels, from whole galaxies down to individual planets and even comets. Players are given sliders and other controls for any object they select and can change its size, mass, velocity, and orbit, among other things. This lets players quickly see how changing different properties of an object affects both its own other properties and the properties of other objects. Want to throw some asteroids at the moon? You can do that! Want to see two galaxies collide? Go for it! Ever wonder why Pluto was downgraded from a planet? Well, now you can check out how different it is from the other planets in our system.
Is it any good?
The game is very effective at what it does: allowing players to experiment in a massive open laboratory and discovering what would happen in response to any number of astronomy-related "what if" questions. The simulation is visually stunning, and the visualization tools are diverse and interesting. Universe Sandbox comes with a variety of optional scenarios and tests whether players want more direction in their sandbox play. Ultimately, however, it's just a tool, and some players may find it difficult to stay engaged for an extended period.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can explore some of the tool's preset scenarios/simulations.
Discuss the delicate balance of our solar system by introducing different objects into it and seeing what happens.
Extend learning by having kids make their own handmade models of the solar system or planets.
- Platforms: Windows
- Subjects: Science: astronomy, gravity, motion, physics
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: hypothesis-testing, part-whole relationships
Tech Skills: using and applying technology
- Price: $9.99 individual; free for schools
- Pricing structure: Free
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Giant Army
- Release date: October 1, 2012
- Genre: Simulation
- Topics: Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: NR
- Last updated: December 02, 2018
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.