Spongelab

Common Sense Media says

Science community shows real promise despite tech glitches.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Promotes science and math learning for all kinds of kids by featuring underrepresented groups such as female chemists.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

Kids can redeem the credits they earn by playing for discounts on science gear in the Spongelab marketplace.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Completing a profile lets kids choose their own Sponge Avatar, earn credits, and gain experience points; this profile is automatically public. To make it private, click the red link in the profile update area. A weird quirk: kids earn experience points by entering their birth year, city, and gender. Hmm.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Spongelab is a place where kids can explore all kinds of science information and get rewarded for their efforts in the form of points. Kids will be joining a community of science-minded individuals, and, although most of the interactive content is geared toward older kids and teens, younger kids can still enjoy the cool images and videos.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • graphing
  • multiplication
  • probability

Science

  • physics
  • biology
  • chemistry

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • memorization
  • solving puzzles

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Hidden beneath beautiful graphics are major technical problems. This causes the games to move slowly or not work at all, frustrating kids and causing them to lose interest.

Learning Approach

Most games provide kids feedback as they progress, which is helpful. Some games are flashy and fun and look great, but they ultimately involve only superficial learning.

Support

Activities are available in multiple languages. Kids can learn from their mistakes based on the data provided.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • graphing
  • multiplication
  • probability

Science

  • physics
  • biology
  • chemistry

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • memorization
  • solving puzzles

Kids can learn about a variety of science, math, and engineering topics. Activities like curve fitting let kids drag around data points, learning about linear and quadratic functions. They can learn chemistry by manipulating an interactive periodic table, and games like Penguin Jump help them learn multiplication. Spongelab has hundreds of simulations; with the plate tectonics simulation, kids can make their own mountain. Spongelab certainly has a wealth of great information -- it's just a matter of making it more accessible to kids.

This Learning Rating review was written by Emily Pohlonski

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What's it about?

SPONGELAB provides free interactive science and math education resources. This includes games, videos, animations, case studies, lesson plans, and quizzes. Kids will register with an email address, a password, and some demographic information such as what country they're in. Once logged in, they can click the Explore tab to find content by subject and language or see what's been uploaded recently, from an image of a wheat harvest to a simulation called Build-a-Solar-Cell. Teachers also can put their own lessons on the site and have kids follow them online. Credits, points, and badges are awarded liberally, but it takes quite a few to purchase an item like the Fish DNA Barcoding kit in the Spongelab Marketplace.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Spongelab provides interactive simulations, videos, and images all with the honest aim of teaching kids science with a host of multimedia content. It's got its heart in the right place, but it seems that for every good quality, there's something the site could improve on. Some games, like Biochem Gems, appear flashy and fun at first glance but ultimately aren't so intuitive and don't have that much learning value. Other activities, like the supercool Genomics Digital Lab, show promise but are slow to load (plus, kids have to navigate through several menus to play). Build-a-Cell has great graphics but isn't that fun; you simply drag and drop images into a cell. Knowledge Mine lets you answer biology trivia questions, but there's a technical glitch that causes the images to block the answer button. Frustrating! If Spongelab could fix all these annoying little bugs, they'd have an outstanding science resource on their hands.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the ways their lives have been affected by science, math, or technology -- for example, the flu, a broken leg, or a major weather event.

  • Spongelab offers cash awards to students who come up with their own STEM-related game ideas. Ask your kids if they have any ideas for fun simulations.

  • Interactive games, videos, and images help kids figure out science and math concepts. Ask your kid what helps them learn best.

Website details

Genre:Educational
Topics:Science and nature
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Spongelab was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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