Previously, we reviewed two apps that were developed based on popular TV series on PBS. The first one was The Great Cookie Thief, a funny storybook featuring the Cookie Monster of Sesame Street as a famous thief from the Wild West. The second one was Dinosaur Train Classic in the Jurassic, Jr.!, a math app featuring the cast of Dinosaur Train as they prepare for an Olympic-like sporting event.
Today we will share about a brand new app, Sid the Science Kid - Sid's Slide to the Side, which is based on another popular TV series on PBS: Sid the Science Kid. Unlike other Sid the Science Kid apps that are already available on the App Store, this is the first of many Appisodes that are designed to explore the learning potentials of an interactive iPad app.
Investigation on Friction
The app's story is taken from the second episode of Season 2 entitled Slide to the Side, which starts with Sid trying out some new dance moves. First he boogies to the left, jumps to the right, and then tries to slide to the side. But in his new sneakers, he just squeaks to a stop.
His parents advise him to take his shoes off. When he finds out that he can slide without his shoes on, Sid is curious to learn why socks allow him to move when his shoes do not.
When he arrives at school, Sid asks his friends Gerald and Gabriela to slide with their shoes on, but both of them can't do it either. When they finally meet up with Teacher Susie, she explains about the unique material used at the bottom of their shoes.
Noticing that everyone is eager to learn more about what friction is and how different materials and surfaces interact to cause things to move faster or slower, Teacher Susie finally decides that day to become the Friction Investigation Day.
Using a hockey puck, Sid and his friends experiment by moving a puck across different types of surfaces: a carpet, a rubber mat, and the smooth floor. They learn that different materials and surfaces have different levels of friction, and the larger the friction, the more difficult it is to move the puck across the surface.
Next, Sid and his friends continue their investigation by moving pucks made of different materials across four different surface types: grass, ice, concrete, and cheese. Here, you are asked to choose the appropriate puck that will generate the perfect friction to stop exactly where a line is drawn.
At the end of the day, Sid and his friends learn a lot about friction. They find that having both small and large amount of friction have their own merits, and Sid learns that his grandma likes to rub wax on the bottom of her ski to let her ski faster. (Yup, I know — what an amazing grandma!)
Sid also gets inspired to come up with an idea to make friction flip flops, a pair of slippers with two modes to suit your needs. With a push of a button, the soles can be like mushy bananas or rubber so you can move faster or slower according to your needs.
The story then ends in an intriguing and challenging way for the readers, by asking what you would do with the knowledge you just learned.
Parents Need to Know
Ever since Sid the Science Kid series was launched for the first time in 2008, Sid has been profiled as an inquisitive youngster who likes to investigate basic scientific principles and why things work the way they do. If you want to find out more about the series, you can visit PBS' website or check out the first and second season on iTunes.
Sid the Science Kid - Sid's Slide to the Side comes with two mini games. The first game is Push-a-Puck, where you can experiment how different puck materials interact with different surface types.
In Sid's Speedway, you drive along a track that switches its surface type several times. By getting the appropriate power-ups, you can switch your tires to suit the current surface type. This is a good way to practice the new concepts that your juniors just learned in a fun way.
Things I Like
I really like the way Teacher Susie teaches the new concept to her students. Instead of giving out just the facts, she allows her students to experiment and investigate.
By being a facilitator in a problem-based learning setup, I believe she correctly focuses on what the students can learn instead of what she can teach. I hope this can become an inspiration to parents who want their juniors to become adept learners.
Another thing I like about the story is how it mentions the fact that Gabriela keeps a journal while the students are performing their experiments. The journal becomes a key puzzle piece in deriving the conclusion on the friction subject. Taking notes while performing an experiment is a good habit to have, and I'm glad that the app mentions this behavior in the story.
Sid the Science Kid - Sid's Slide to the Side is an excellent mashup between an interactive storybook, an experimental testbed on the concept of friction, and a collection of videos and mini games to enrich the learning experience.
It really does a great job of exploring the original TV storyline into a much deeper learning experience for the juniors. We highly recommend it for juniors ages six and up, and we are looking forward for the next app in the series.
If you really like the series, you can also check out Sid in his movie debut. Sid the Science Kid the Movie is also released today on iTunes and on DVD. In the movie, Sid and his friends enter a contest to win an exclusive opportunity to visit a new modern science museum before it opens to the public. Sounds like a fun challenge to them, and a fun movie to watch with your juniors.
App was provided for our honest review.