Bottom Line: A fun game preschoolers and kindergarteners will love to play, along with a little dose of Max and Ruby to keep them engaged. Learn about the states of water and force/motion all with a little help from Ruby!
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First five levels of all games are free. In-app purchase for full version.
Max & Ruby Science Educational Games is a brand new app from Tribal Nova, designed to introduce preschoolers and kindergarten children to science concepts. All three of my kids loved Max and Ruby, and I can’t think of better characters to talk science to kids. After all, Ruby constantly has to innovate and experiment, with no parents ever around!
The games are also a great representation of Max’s normal exploration. In Water Blast, the user helps Max and Ruby by filling in missing pipes to complete the pipeline and get the water to the kiddie pool at the end, learning about the states of water along the way. The puzzles are progressively harder as the user plays, though they also adjust for difficulty by giving more time for those users showing less proficiency.
When each path is finished, a scene is animated, showing Max and Ruby in various play, such as jumping through a sprinkler and wading in a pool. After completing a few puzzles, the user earns a reward to play with on the interactive Make Believe section. It’s like a sticker scene, with a few more animated elements.
I really loved these puzzles. The inclusion of Max and Ruby themselves is just the right amount to add an engaging element for kids who are already familiar with them, but one doesn’t have to know who they are in order to enjoy the app.
In the second level, water passes through a snow icon and turns into snow, while in the third level water turns into gas when it passes through a heater (represented by a flame). The snow flows to an ice rink, and the gas fills a big hot air balloon at the end of the pipeline. A few puzzles into each level, another explanation is given about the process of changing the state of water.
After this introduction to all of the states of water, the later puzzles incorporate all into one path. The pieces can be put in the wrong spot, too, stopping the progress of the water. Unfortunately, the puzzle doesn’t teach what was wrong or instruct the user how to fix the mistakes.
The second game is called Ball-o-Rama, and involves the user directing a ball into a hole. The ball is pulled back by the user, then released to launch. This simple physics game includes balls made of different materials (which makes them travel differently) and various obstacles to go around, and multiple balls in harder levels.
This game teaches about force and motion in a fun puzzle way. In the more challenging levels, there are various obstacles like textured carpets and water spills. And just like in a bad game of miniature golf, one can easily get stuck bouncing off the same wall and rolling away. Thankfully, Ruby is very encouraging when kids don’t get the puzzle solved (unlike some competitive family members!).
There are 27 different puzzles to solve in each of the games, giving a lot of opportunity for kids to experiment with science. The reward Make Believe section is open-ended and lot of fun — I know my daughter will spend more time in this section than the puzzles! But the incentive to keep playing in order to earn more stickers (18 in all) can keep even the most make-believe oriented kids going back for more science learning.
I do have one small gripe with the water passing through a snow icon to freeze and turning into snow in the second stage. That would make sense if it were falling from the sky, but it’s passing through a pipe and it seems more likely it would turn into ice. To complicate matters further, it goes to an ice rink, and does in fact make ice.
I recognize the complicating factor that ice can’t flow through a pipe, but it still just felt inaccurate for a science-oriented app. As a child who believed for years that thunder was the sound that clouds made when they bumped together in the sky, because someone told me that, I find it important to give kids accurate science information.
About my only real difficulty with this app was when I played on my iPhone. My big adult fingers covered up the small pipes and balls, making it hard to see exactly where to place them. Thankfully, child-sized fingers fare much better, though I would recommend turning off the pull-up menu, as it was frequently activated.
Max & Ruby Science Educational Games teaches young children about the state of water and force and motion in a fun, very accessible way. Kids will learn from Ruby’s words of wisdom and from the actual game play, and they will likely have fun doing it. It’s recommended for kids ages 3 to 6.
Heather H.'s kids wish that they could so easily turn water into snow. SmartAppsForKids.com was paid a priority review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.