Brain Chase

Website review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
Brain Chase Website Poster Image
Kids embark on a pricey but fun summer learning adventure.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about math, reading, and writing by completing exercises. Math exercises are housed on a separate site -- kids can choose from problems designed for third to eighth graders, ranging from addition to geometry and data modeling. Literary selections include books about history, geography, and other topics, as well as classic novels and young adult fiction. Kids also submit regular journal entries, and a teacher responds with personalized instruction. Kids control the activity level topics (and difficulty level), which means they could choose to aim for only the easiest items to simply get things done, but there's plenty available that should keep them entertained and busy. Brain Chase's diverse learning materials should ensure that kids pick up some new knowledge for summer, no matter what they study.

Positive Messages

Kids asked to comply with a user covenant that says they won't take shortcuts or cheat; many exercises reward them for completion and effort instead of just getting answers right. 

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

Kids won't see a lot of ads, but there's a cost involved to participate.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Brain Chase is a reading, math, and typing skill-based website that challenges kids to use their knowledge to uncover and solve a mystery. The camp costs $75 and offers electives, for example foreign language classes, for an additional fee. Kids will need to commit to the site's six-week challenge -- which involves about five hours of online work a week and some at-home activities -- but they can generally work at their own pace. The website and the activities frequently reward kids for their effort and their completion of tasks, which is a good motivation to keep working through each task. There aren't any ads on the website, but the cost to use the activities is a bit steep, which could deter some kids and families. Though kids can't email each other or otherwise meet strangers on the site, they can interact with social media on the Brain Chase site, which could expose them to strangers.

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What's it about?

BRAIN CHASE pairs weekly reading, math, and typing challenges with an ongoing quest: Kids watch young animated adventurers as they travel across the globe, looking for treasure. Kids also receive several treasure-hunting tools in the mail to help with challenges. Teachers provide customized feedback to journal entries that kids submit; kids can customize the level and type of reading and math items they work on. Math exercises are tied to the Khan Academy education site, and kids choose reading selections from MyON.

Is it any good?

Created by two parents who were looking for a way to help their kids continue learning during summer, BRAIN CHASE is a clever, creative -- and, most importantly, fun -- six-week program, starting June 20, 2016 that provides both virtual and real-world payoffs. Kids will undertake weekly math and reading challenges, based on a difficulty level they feel is appropriate, and submit journal entries that teachers provide personalized feedback on. They'll also watch high-quality, engaging videos that feature a team of animated adventurers hunting for treasure -- which contain hidden clues about where an actual treasure is buried.

Kids can submit one guess every 24 hours; the one who submits the right location will be flown to it to dig up the treasure, which includes a key to a safety deposit box containing a $10,000 scholarship. With its prize money, focus on educational skills, and physical activity objects, Brain Chase could just be the solution to combating summer brain drain for students.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about solving mysteries, which encourages you to be perceptive and use critical-thinking skills and logic. Ask your child to identify signs that something has just happened in a room -- for example, in the kitchen, how you can tell someone recently cooked breakfast? 

  • Many of the site's exercises let you try again until you get the correct answer. Does your child get frustrated after the first try? Talk about the importance of persevering and how it can help you learn new things.

  • Kids can click on a world map to guess the treasure’s location. How is it like and different from life in the U.S.? What are the economy, local culture, and attractions like?

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