This ecology app for young kids puts them in charge of cleaning up the world’s oceans. Players join hermit crab Jacques on missions to polluted spots in the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Arctic Oceans. While there, kids tap on trash that is floating in the water to clean it up. They will also swipe at floating oil spills to make them disappear. The trash collected is sent to a recycling center. In addition to cleaning up the oceans, kids will learn about whirlpools, blowholes, and tidal bores, since they are the settings for three arcade games.
How to Play
After finishing a round of six ocean missions, kids earn a fish part -- such as a fin from a sailfish or glowing spots from a bioluminescent creature. They can use these earned parts to create their own unique fish in the Creature Builder section. Starting with a fish body, kids add eyes, mouths, fins, and other accoutrements. They get to choose colors and patterns for their sea creature and can take a photo of it to share. If kids move a magnifying glass over their creature's parts, they will trigger spoken explanations of where the part originated or interesting facts about the fish body. One such fact is that seahorses curl their tails around coral or plants, so that they don't float away while resting.
The Good and the Bad
Marine Missions is meant to whet kids interest in water conservation and introduce them to some of the animals found in the oceans. In the clean-up missions, as kids clear away the floating debris, fish, and ocean mammals start to appear. Their presence actually helps kids to use visual discrimination skills to figure out if the object floating is the head of an octopus or a discarded bottle.
The three arcade games are fun, but they contain only a smidgeon of learning. While they will introduce kids to occurrences such as whirlpools and blowholes, the activities themselves aren't educational. For example, at a whirlpool, kids simply tap items before they get sucked in. Likewise, the activity about riding a tidal bore is little more than avoiding rocks and birds floating in the oceans. However, parents can extend this learning by using the "For Families" section, which is filled with information about these occurrences
The Bottom Line
Marine Missions is a charming way to introduce kids to the ocean and some of the ecological challenges that are happening there. Splashing kids with ecology games helps them start to understand that the oceans are something we need to protect.
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