Alien Assignment iPhone app sends kids searching

Jan 4, 2013
Education

It would have been a surprise if a game released by the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media had been anything less than stellar. Alien Assignment lives up to the expectation. In the simple storyline the Gloop family’s spaceship has a mishap with a wayward satellite and crashes. Siblings Gleep and Glop […]

It would have been a surprise if a game released by the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media had been anything less than stellar. Alien Assignment lives up to the expectation.

In the simple storyline the Gloop family’s spaceship has a mishap with a wayward satellite and crashes. Siblings Gleep and Glop send players on a scavenger hunt for items needed to repair the ship: an item that will hold liquid to repair a leaking gas tank, something that smells stinky to repair the trash compactor, something transparent to fix the broken windshield, and so on.

Players use the phone’s camera to take photos of the necessary items, and once four items have been found, Gleep instructs the player to hand the phone to their grown-up to review the photos. If the items photographed fulfill the requirements, the ship is repaired. If not, players continue hunting for appropriate items.

The best feature of this game is that it keeps kids engaged with the space around them and gets them up and moving around, as well as engaged with a grown-up, who can help explain why an item they’ve photographed does or doesn’t meet the requirements. While kids could certainly skip the “show a grown-up” instruction and just approve all of their own photos, most probably won’t. The real fun of the game is the real life scavenger hunt.

Each game session requires searching for four items, so kids can play a quick game, or play again through another inevitable crash (Mr. Gloop might be a terrible spaceship driver). Great game for the preschool set, and even for kids as old as six.

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Viki Gonia

Viki Gonia writes a column for her local paper, teaches writing at Columbia College of Chicago, and has had her iPhone surgically attached to her hand.

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