Isopod: The Roly Poly Science Game App Review
App Name: Isopod: The Roly Poly Science Game
Mom’s Rating: 5/5
Kids’ Rating: 4/5
Recommended Grades/Ages: Grades 4-6, Junior High
Skills Developed: Bugs, Insects, Life Science, Entomology, Ecosystems, Biology, Endangered Species
Available On/Price: iPad – $1.99 with optional in-app purchase of $0.99 to unlock all levels at once (teacher’s version)
Reviewed on: iPad
Isopod: The Roly Poly Science Game is designed to pique older children’s interest in the wild and wonderful world of insects through a combination of fact-filled learning cards and dynamic, action-based gaming.
The app includes two main modes, play and learn. The game mode drives the unlocking of further games and learning topics about more of the game ‘characters’ – bugs themselves, many endangered, some extinct, and others that are simply fascinating.
Four beautifully detailed gaming environments are included in the app with three levels each. Your child controls the rolling movements of the roly poly (or pill bug) whose job it is to roll around the screen, bumping into insects to rescue them from their predators while avoiding those same predators. The goal of each level changes and is based on a ratio – rescue a certain number of bugs before a maximum number is devoured by its predator.
Your child’s roly poly has a life status bar and can fill it back up by hitting a ladybug, other power-ups are also available: invincibility, multiple pill bugs etc. (one in each environment) that help in the deliverance of these hunted, vulnerable insects.
Each environment is carefully designed to integrate biological realities into the gameplay. Accurate defense mechanisms, attack strategies, insect behavior etc. are all integrated into the design of the app.
The learning topics resemble a rich, fact-filled, double-sized playing card (but absolutely jammed full of information). There is a wealth of detail on one page along with small images, a beautiful high-resolution photo on the other side. The topics are fully narrated and can be heard being read aloud by tapping on the speaker in the corner of the screen. Each environment has its own set of topics – six per level for a total of 24 – as well as its own vocabulary list and discussion topics.
In the regular version, game levels and their accompanying information cards are unlocked one at a time as each game is completed. In the Teacher’s Version (available for an additional $4.99 as an IAP) the entire app becomes unlocked without having to play through it first. The app can then be set to unlock in stages as it is played.
The makers of Isopod have pulled together a wealth of multi-media resources (online videos, images, descriptions, articles etc.) available on their Pinterest page that go along with the app and an EXTENSIVE 62 page free downloadable guide.
The guide includes coloring pages and basic descriptions of the bugs in the app (these are great even for younger children who want to participate in a bug-based study), hands-on activities observing bugs in the outdoors that all family members can take part in, and more advanced activities for older children including classification, Latin names, anatomy quizzes, and much more. There are even web-based links for further research and activities included.
Music, sound effects, locking topics, and locking levels can all be set on and off in the app options. Tilt orientation can also be switched between ? and ? for the game play mechanics.
Parents may want to know that the app does include some references to millions of years ago.
Other Notes: This app doesn’t include any ads. It does include an in-app purchase, links to external websites, social media sites, and an email link on the info screen.
What We Liked:
Isopod is so much more than an app – it’s more akin to a unit study with an app at its core. The app’s high-interest game-based element can be used as a jumping in point of interest to a wide world of larger learning opportunities. While the app is beautifully designed and the game’s challenges will encourage more accomplished gamers to keep moving through the levels to unlock more science topics, families with more hesitant gamers will still find it to be a great interest-raising tool that can then be transferred to real-life studies outside of the app.
Unusual, but high-interest science concepts are covered during both game play and described in more detail in the science topics section. Mimicry, camouflage, beneficial insects, bioluminescence (my favorite!), and even an anthropological topic about the Ohlone Indians of California are included.
When all of the additional, pre-researched resources are combined with the app’s game and science topics itself, Isopod can spark and feed the imagination of children for a long time.
What We Didn’t Like:
The game play of Isopod is rather difficult – there isn’t a pause button or escape button back to the main app when playing and the game works on tilt-based iPad movements only. I’ve passed several levels, but my daughter (9) and husband haven’t yet – it is a bit tricky. It might be nice to see some sort of tap and drag movement available on an easier game play setting for those who aren’t experienced gamers.
Isopod provides a splendid, detailed exploration of bug-life in its many interactions from an eco-system focused point of view. Providing much more than a challenging, fast-paced, science-based bug-rescue mission game, the app also includes 24 richly detailed science topics along with free downloadables and linked multi-media resources – enough for an entire unit study!
Buy this iPad app now for $1.99 with an optional in-app purchase of $0.99 for the unlocked teacher’s version.
Have you downloaded this app? Let us know what you and your children thought – leave a comment!