The Heart of the Matter
Monster Heart Medic was developed by the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley with funding from the National Institutes of Health. It teaches kids about the cardiovascular system and the actions that everyone can take to keep his or her heart healthy.
In Monster Heart Medic, kids help an endearing but exhausted monster named Ragnar. Kids take Ragnar around town to visit the doctor's office, run tests at the hospital, and even visit Ragnar's apartment to suggest how he can make healthier lifestyle choices. Of course, to help Ragnar get healthy, kids have to become heart health experts themselves -- as they play, kids will hear stories of other monsters with heart troubles and use interactive simulations to build their knowledge of the cardiovascular system. Learning is reinforced through mini-racing games interspersed throughout the game. By the end, Ragnar is healthy and kids are true Monster Heart Medics!
Learn How to Heal a Heart
Monster Heart Medic opens with a cartoon video introducing Ragnar, a monster who wants to run a marathon but has heart trouble while on the treadmill. Next kids choose whether to play in English or Spanish; and then find themselves at the doors of a fitness center. Throughout the game, kids explore rooms and interact with characters in a variety of locations such as the fitness center, medical supply store, and the hospital. Dr. Felicia Fitness provides instructions along the way, and a cartoon finger points out next steps as needed.
Throughout the game, kids collect health fact achievements as they learn about the cardiovascular system so that they can properly diagnose Ragnar's condition and help him get healthy. Does Ragnar have a heart murmur, like the monster Moyo? To find out, it's off to the supply store for a stethoscope! Kids will guide Ragnar's motorcycle through town by tapping to jump over obstacles, collecting coins, and earning power-up by identifying healthy foods. Kids race all around town with Ragnar, gathering equipment, running the appropriate tests, calling his mother to do a family history, hearing stories of other monsters, making the diagnosis, and helping Ragnar change his life to manage his health. Along the way, they can spend collected coins on fancy clothes for Ragnar and earn a hearty helping of health facts (pun intended).
Why Ragnar and Monster Heart Medic Is So Good
Monster Heart Medic fills a void in the much-needed science and health literacy area of kids' apps. It has a clever approach to helping kids learn, with interactive tools and relatable stories, plus a few animated videos and fun mini-games thrown in. The mini-games between locations get progressively more challenging, with a bonus quiz to test and reinforce what kids have learned about the heart and healthy eating.
By playing doctor, kids can help Ragnar. They listen to his irregular heartbeats, measure his blood pressure with a pressure cuff, and watch and control a simulation of how cholesterol impacts blood flow. Helping Ragnar empowers kids with the knowledge and confidence to help themselves and their families as well. Anyone can followMonster Heart Medic's practical, attainable recommendations, such as choosing a lean burger instead of a fatty one.
While Monster Heart Medic isn't very long -- older kids can easily finish the game in one sitting -- the mini-games have some replayability, and there are extra arcade games to play once the main game is finished. There are a few aread where Monster Heart Medic could improve. For instance, only one user can play at a time and some of the characters are a bit stereotyped, and we'd love to see Ragnar wearing a helmet on his motorcycle. Still, it's a clever health game that imparts helpful information. We appreciate that Monster Heart Medic is available in Spanish, as is the included guide for parents.
Monster Heart Medic is best for tweens, especially those who are motivated by helping others. It is designed for 10-13 year olds, which is the age when most kids are starting to make their own lifestyle choices. The interactive diagrams help kids understand the consequences of their choices over time. The stories in Monster Heart Medic are also powerful tools for engaging kids who are drifting away from science. With so much to gain and nothing to lose, we hope everyone gives this one a try!
This Monster Heart Medic app review was written by Liz K. McKinney.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.