What It Is
Fingerprint Digital, a mobile entertainment network for kids, teamed up with app developer TigerFace Games to deliver a new app called Not Lost in the Universe. It is a single-reader, science-based interactive story app with narration. Kids can follow along with the words printed at the bottom of the screen. In this animated app, kids travel the universe to learn about renewable energy sources: wind, sun, water, and heat. The story is all about Kip, Bella, and their pet alien, Borko, who are traveling in a spaceship. Because the spaceship doesn't have enough fuel to make it back to Earth, the ship crash-lands on a nearby planet called Blarp. This planet uses renewable energy sources, and Kip and Bella learn that they can use these energy sources to charge their ship. On each page, kids can tap the screen to hear more phrases and sounds from the characters and activate more animation. Through five chapters and three mini games, readers help the characters refuel their power cells and return safely to Earth.
Why It’s Fun
This is an interactive app designed to introduce young kids to different forms of renewable energy. We like that each page of the story offers additional animation when kids tap the screen instead of only offering a static image. The incorporation of mini games keeps kids engaged as they follow along with the story, which is a bit long, especially for younger kids.
Who It’s For
Not Lost in the Universe is for ages 3–8.
What To Be Aware Of
This app requires iOS 5.1 or later. It is compatible with the iPad.
Some of the mini games don't provide much instruction. For instance, in one game, kids must put wind turbine blades back on the turbines. As adults, we were able to figure out that you needed to match the shape at the end of each blade to the shape on the turbine, but the app doesn't specifically tell you that that is what you must do. In another game, kids must put broken solar panels back together, but we couldn't find the solar panel pieces. It wasn't until we randomly tapped the grass on the screen that the solar panel pieces appeared. We think preschoolers might need a little more instruction for these games.
Kids may discover these things by randomly tapping the screen, but they are more likely to get frustrated, and the learning is undermined by making it random rather than directed.
The app does include ads for other Fingerprint Digital apps. If you click on one, a grown-up is then asked to enter a code in order to download. The code is provided, however, so kids could enter it themselves and be taken to the Apple App store where they could easily click to download. And if they know their parents' Apple password, they could just as easily finalize the purchase.
Parents also have the option to sign up for a free Fingerprint account so that they can see their children's progress and invite other family members to play the same game on different devices. You can register for this the first time you open the app or at any later time.
A free version of the app is also available, but you won't get the full app content.