When I was a child, I enjoyed learning about the great inventors of our time. From Benjamin Franklin to the Wright Brothers, I admired them for their invaluable contributions to the world. I suspect that many other kids, too, would feel the same way after learning about these historic figures in The Great Inventors.
The Great Inventors
Created by Dream Made, The Great Inventors is a fun and educational app that introduces kids to more than 20 great inventions of our time, such as the camera, bicycle, lightbulb, and radio. It also includes other interesting things that are not typically regarded as inventions, such as carrier pigeons and the watermill.
These inventions are spread across three interactive scenes that have been made to represent historical time periods. Although they are not explicitly dated, the scenes are similar in appearance to the 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s, respectively. Each scene can be scrolled sideways to reveal more illustrations. You can also tap on various objects to see small animations, for example, on the train to make it run or on the photographer to snap a picture.
On top of the screen, there are three icons that indicate different playing modes: learn, play, or travel in time. When you tap on the Learn icon, question marks will appear above each invention. You can tap on a question mark to bring up a short description about that invention.
In Play, you can play three different matching games with increasing difficulty. The first game is a simple matching game with eight cards; the second game requires you to match the invention to the inventor; and in the third game, you must complete a sequence, for example, camera - camera - Daguerre - camera - blank - blank.
In the third playing mode, you can use a time machine to travel to a different time period. Tap on the backward or forward arrow to go back to the past or the future, respectively, and the clock will spin quickly for a fun effect. When the animation is completed, the scene will have changed slightly to show the progression in time. You can then explore to learn about the new inventions.
Parents Need to Know
The Great Inventors presents a simple interface that young children should be able to use without much difficulty. All the interactions are marked with a question mark for clarity. Narration for each invention will begin by default, but can be turned off if your child prefers to read on her own. Help text is also available at the beginning of the app to let her know that it is possible to switch between playing modes, although it would be nice if it were also narrated.
One thing to note is the app should be treated as an introduction, instead of an exhaustive guide, to inventors. Succinct information is given for each invention, but perhaps will not satisfy older children. If you are looking for a similar app that contains an extensive information (but requires more reading), I recommend checking out Gadgetarium.
The app works well in Airplane mode. It contains no ads and no in-app purchases. Pictures of the developer’s other apps can be seen on the main screen, but to access the download link you must solve a mathematical problem way above the level of the app’s intended audience.
The Great Inventors has language support for English (with audio in British English), Italian, and German. It is available as a Universal app on the App Store.
Things I Like
The Great Inventors features cute illustrations in a bright color palette. There are lots of tiny interactions spread across three different scenes, which make it fun to use. The time travel animation is especially exciting with its great use of sound effects and animations. I also like how you can travel through different time periods and see in the small details how technology has progressed: the buildings in the background will change from squat houses to skyscrapers, and the cobblestone roads to asphalt.
The app includes a nice selection of inventions from all over the world. I am impressed that it even includes less common inventions, such as reinforced concrete. Since many of these inventions are still used today, you can use the opportunity to talk with your child what other inventions she thinks still play a prominent role in our lives.
Overall, this is an informative app with a lot of potential. One thing I’d like to see in future updates is mentions of the year an invention was discovered, which I think is a crucial element in learning history. I also would prefer to see the inventors portrayed as human caricatures instead of animals — they are cute, but not very relatable. Finally, an interactive quiz would also be useful to emphasize learning.
The Great Inventors is a cutely illustrated app that contains practical profiles about the great inventions of our time and their inventors. A fun time-travel learning mode lets kids can move through three different time periods to see how technology has progressed over time. It also includes engaging interactions, and a matching game with three difficulty levels. Overall, it’s a nice introduction to inventions for young history lovers ages 5 and up.
App was provided for our honest review.