Have your children ever asked you why they look like you? Or why some people have blonde hair while others have black hair? If they have, then you might want to show them this new app from Avokiddo: DNA Play.
As hinted by the title, DNA Play introduces children to the basic concept of genetics through a simple, open-ended gameplay. By completing a series of DNA puzzles, you can create unique monsters with various body parts. You can then have fun playing with your newly-made monsters.
Let’s Make Monsters
You begin the app with a basic, unformed figure that will become your monster. On the top of the screen is a DNA puzzle, which you complete using the pieces on the bottom. As a rule, yellow pieces must always pair with orange pieces, while blue pieces always pair with teal pieces. This is similar to real DNA, where the base pairs are always adenine-thymine and guanine-cytosine.
As the puzzle starts to come together, so do the monster’s body parts. There are six puzzles that you’ll need to complete to give the monster a fully grown torso, face, and limbs. You can also tweak the gene order or tap the monster’s body part to trigger mutation. For example, you can tap the arms to change them into wings. There are over 200 billion possible combinations to allow you to create the creature of your dreams.
In addition to creating your monster, you can also interact with them. For example, you can feed them various food and observe their unique responses. You can also make them dance, go on a skateboard ride with them, watch as they get chased around by an elephant, and turn off the lights to see if they’re afraid of the dark.
Note that while these interactions are happening, you can still alter your monster’s genes. Thus, it’s possible to observe which body parts are better for a specific activity. Monsters with long legs, for example, tend to move better when dancing compared to monsters with short legs.
Once you’re happy with your creature, you can snap a photo of it along with its genetic blueprints. You can also save the monster and come back later to play with it. Note that the app allows you to save up to 18 monsters.
Parents Need to Know
If you go to the parents’ section, you’ll find basic information on DNA along with an illustrated tutorial on how to use the app. You’ll also be able to change autosave options and specify whether snapshots should be saved in your device’s photo library. If you’d prefer to feed your monsters with vegetarian food only, you can check the corresponding box to turn on the vegetarian option.
DNA Play is ideal for ages 4-9, and features a language-neutral gameplay with no time limits and no high scores. It doesn’t contain third-party advertising and in-app purchases.
Things I Like
Lately there’s been a surge of apps that cover interesting educational topics, but I believe DNA Play is the first to introduce kids to genetics. If this doesn’t make the app noteworthy to you, then you should know that it’s also well done.
Visually, the app is really good. The monsters are downright silly; I love how they show a wide range of expressions depending on the situation. The interface is child-friendly, too.
But what I really like about the app is its subtlety. It doesn’t present you with blocks of text, rather it lets you infer from the gameplay that genes determine the physical characters in a person.
It’s this subtlety that allows the app to be enjoyed by different age groups. Whereas older children can challenge themselves to figure out which gene combination creates a certain trait, younger children can have fun creating and interacting with their monster. That said, with your guidance the app can be a starting point to get your children interested in genetics in particular and science in general.
In DNA Play, kids learn how genes work by creating silly monsters. By tweaking the monster’s gene order, they can give it certain physical traits such as a furry torso or short legs. Delightful animations bring the monsters to life and make this app engaging for young children. Great for ages 4+.
App was provided for our honest review.
Avokiddo is an award-winning creative studio specializing in the development of quality educational apps for children. You should check out their other apps we’ve reviewed: