A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that WorldWide Telescope is a downloadable science game/experience that provides an interactive and deeply complex window onto the universe. It's basically a curated collection of the best astronomical data and imagery from telescopes, observatories, and scientists all over the globe. With so much information at the user's fingertips yet a less-than-ideal interface, it's easy to get overwhelmed. So plan on spending time helping younger kids get oriented.
What's it about?
WORLDWIDE TELESCOPE provides an atlas of the known universe by drawing on stunning data from telescopes, observatories, and research labs all over the world. Prerecorded tours fly the viewer through the cosmos, acting as a tour guide to the universe's greatest hits and highlights. Outside of the tours, kids can use WorldWide Telescope as an interactive desktop planetarium, journeying to the infinite expanses in the sky while getting unprecedented access to astronomical imagery and information from top scientists.
Is it any good?
As a tool, this is nothing short of awe-inspiring -- although it might initially overwhelm users due to the sheer amount of data it provides. The ability to zoom down to the street level on Earth (and then blast millions of light years through space to view a spinning nebula) makes it a powerful resource for understanding astronomy and our place in the universe. With a click of the mouse, images of celestial bodies provide a wealth of data that illuminate the glittering objects we see in the sky. Kids can wrestle with the almost incomprehensible distances that make up the universe or simply admire the beauty of distant star systems; either way, WorldWide Telescope provides a resource perfect for anyone who desires a better understanding of life beyond planet Earth.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how accurate telescopes are in pinpointing items on Earth or in space. If you use the Earth viewer, can you find your hometown, street, and even your house? How do you think this translates to looking at celestial objects?
If you had access to an observatory, what would be the first planet or galaxy you'd observe? Why?
- Platforms: Mac, Windows, iPhone
- Subjects: Science: astronomy
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: asking questions, collecting data
Tech Skills: digital creation, using and applying technology
- Pricing structure: Free
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Microsoft Research
- Release date: November 4, 2013
- Genre: Educational
- Topics: Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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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.