My app pick for today is called iBiome-Wetland. It’s an educational app designed to teach kids about biodiversity and the importance of wetlands in our world.
The story starts with Professor Biodiveesee showing the impact of human actions to our world: we’re removing wetlands from our habitat and replacing them with urban cities. The Professor explains how wetlands actually protect us from natural disasters, such as erosion, hurricanes, and tsunamis. He encourages us to restore wetlands to their natural state by rebuilding the wetland ecosystems again.
To do that, he invites us to play with his bio domes. Using bio domes, we can experiment and discover the amazing species that live together in wetland ecosystems, such as marshes and swamps. We will learn about the food chains, the relationships between producers and consumers, and between predators and preys (a.k.a. the predation system).
The game is organized into four bio domes: one fresh water marsh, one salt water marsh, and two mangrove swamps. Each bio dome will introduce you to 9-13 new species by way of completing the given tasks. The task description includes facts related to the new species and a small picture of what the species look like.
You’d then shake your iPad to in order to play the Crazy Food Web game. The game is a fun way to learn about new species and how they’re positioned in the food chains, especially in the context of the bio dome’s habitat. For example, an algae is the producer in a fresh water marsh ecosystem, whereas a northern harrier is the highest predator in a salt water marsh ecosystem.
The plants and animals are introduced gradually, starting from the lowest rank in the food chains. For example, in the fresh water marsh ecosystem, you will be introduced to algae and water lilies before learning about snail, wasp, and blue-winged tail. The same is true for salt water marsh ecosystem where crayfish and shrimp are introduced before higher-rank predators such as largemouth bass and osprey.
The mangrove swamp is special compared to the fresh and salt water marshes, because it has more diverse species. That’s why they are organized into two bio domes to make things simpler. You have to complete the first swamp before you head on to the second swamp. Occasionally, species from the first swamp will be introduced as lower-rank species in the second swamp. For example, the oak toad and pig frog are two middle-rank species in the first swamp. You will see them several times in the second swamp as the app introduces higher-rank predators such as otter and alligator.
The Crazy Food Web Game
The highlight of iBiome-Wetland is the Crazy Food Web game. In this game, you are asked to identify the correct roles of the species shown in the challenge. You’ll see three floating icons (such as sun, water, and algae) which you must drag into their corresponding roles: environment or producer.
Here is a list of roles that you will see in the Crazy Food Web game:
- the environment, such as sun, water, and mud
- the producer, such as algae, water lily, and other plants
- the consumer, such as snail, small fish, and other animals that consume the plants directly
- the prey, such as wasp, hoverfly, and other small animals that are in the lower rank of the predation system
- the predator, such as dragonfly, alligator, and other animals that are in the upper rank of the predation system
The Crazy Food Web game is a great way to introduce kids to new species. It forces kids to put the new species and the previously-known species into their respective roles. It helps to illustrate how they will be placed in the larger food chain pyramid.
Parents Need to Know
Judging by the amount of text that one has to read to gain the most benefits out of iBiome-Wetland, I’d recommend the app for ages 8+ who are already proficient in their reading skills. It’s a great app to learn about biodiversity and how to build a balanced habitat for many species to live in.
In total, iBiome-Wetland highlights more than 50 species in eight different categories, from insects and birds to fish and amphibians. The app allows you to build four unique bio domes from scratch, and you can influence the kind and number of species you want to have in each ecosystem.
iBiome-Wetland is currently only available on the iPad. It works great without Internet connection, and it doesn’t have third-party ads, in-app purchases, or links to social networks.
Things I Like
In addition to the fun and challenging gameplay of The Crazy Food Web, the app also includes achievement badges, bio dome journals, and personal ranks to keep you excited. There are four achievements that you can earn by experimenting with the ecosystem balance in each habitat.
If you manage to bring positive impacts to the ecosystem, for example, make more than one species increases in number at the same time, you will get an achievement badge. But, if you’re not careful, you may end up wiping one of the species away from that habitat.
Every time you unlock a new species, you will get a new entry about that species in the Journal. The Journal is organized by the bio domes where the species are found. You can tap on the species icon to learn more about the species, and zoom in on the photographs to take a better look. The Journal also allows you to see the food chain relationships among the different species who live in the same habitat.
As you progress through the app, you also climb up the ranks. You start your journey as a Beginner, but after completing a few tasks and unlocking a couple of achievement badges, you’ll be promoted to Learner and Novice. As I walked through the end of all four bio domes, my personal rank was upgraded to Pupil, Assistant, and Proficient.
Facts I Learned
In iBiome-Wetland, there are many opportunities for learning about a species. For example, in the task description at the start of a task, in the congratulatory popups, and in the Journal. You’ll discover a lot of fun facts, but here are 10 facts that I find most interesting:
- There are around 25,000 different species of algae.
- In Tamil poetry, water lilies are considered a symbol of grief and separation.
- Coldgrass and sea oats help prevent soil erosion by holding onto the soil tightly with their long roots.
- Crayfish is an omnivore because they feed on vegetation and other animals, such as snails and insects.
- Crayfish like to hunt at night.
- Live shrimp are usually blue in color due to the lack of oxygen.
- Extracts from Mangrove Fern leaves can be used to treat wounds and boils.
- The Mangrove Fern leaves can be used to stop bleeding.
- Oysters suck in water and filter out the plankton and detritus. Then, they spit the water back out after having consumed their prey.
- Despite their massive size, brown pelicans are very buoyant (able to float in air and water) because they have internal air sacks beneath their skin and in their bones.
iBiome-Wetland is a unique science app where you can actually experiment how a balanced ecosystem works. Designed to teach kids ages 8+ to understand the importance of wetlands, the app goes above and beyond by introducing the relationships among producers, preys, and predators, and showing fun facts related to the ecosystem. If you want to learn more about the animals and plants that live in the marshes and swamps, iBiome-Wetland is the app to buy.
Get iBiome-Wetland on the App Store: iPad
App was provided for our honest review.