Smart Apps For Android: REVIEW: Geography Drive Arcade (best educational Android apps for kids)

Sunday, March 02, 2014

REVIEW: Geography Drive Arcade (best educational Android apps for kids)

Bottom Line: Digital worksheets for testing students' knowledge of the states of USA, excellently presented but with a lot of trial and error and no real progress tracking.

Price: $0.99                     Size: 34.6MB                    Number of Activities: five in total



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App explained: Before launching into gameplay, students are advised to use the Study Map. A color coded map displays all states (with Alaska and Hawaii as insets), with a different color for each state region. As each state is tapped, information is provided regarding the state's capital, size, time zone, history and more. For the smaller states up in New England region, the map can be easily zoomed in to be able to tap on Rhode Island for example.

After studying the map, students can then attempt the four other activities. State Shape Challenge is aptly named! Students are required to identify the state by its shape. All 50 states are listed with the first shape shown, meaning students really need to know their stuff because the process of elimination strategy is not going to work very well here! Students are given one chance to get it right, then the answer is given with the name of the state then recording a checkmark or an ex against it (thus making it easier to guess as the challenge progresses and states are eliminated).

Flagstaff State Flag Game is a similar kind of activity, with students required to choose the correct flag (from a choice of five) to match the state named. Students are given five chances to choose the correct flags and once the chances are used, that is the end of the game. A correctly chosen flag will disappear and be replaced by another. Students again will most likely be using a process of elimination and guesswork unless they do actually know which flag belongs to which state.

By now you have the idea of how this app works. The next activity, State Capital Challenge is very similar to the first, with students needing to choose a capital from the 50 listed for the state presented. Trophies are awarded for games completed with a perfect score. I'll say that again, they are only awarded for perfectly completed games. The more trophies awarded, the higher the level recognized (bronze, silver, gold).

Honolulu Spelling Bee is a simple spelling test that requires students to spell the names of the states. A silhouette of the state is shown and the name of the state spoken. Students have one chance to spell it correctly before the correct spelling is given. As states are tested, they are crossed off a list with awards given for perfectly completely games. There are no hints or help, students either know how to spell the states or they do not.

Pros/Cons: The graphics in Geography Drive Arcade are excellent. The Study Map presents all the states clearly for students to learn, with information about each state laid out well. The background music that constantly played was quite distracting but I could not find anywhere to switch it off. There are also verbal instructions and encouragement provided and the user-interface is fairly intuative. This is the kind of app that children could share together and work as a small group to get the answers correct.

For less than a dollar, there are enough activities for students to practice state identification and I could see this app used in a classroom situation where small groups could compete against each other to complete a challenge. Learning state names etc does not really lend itself to higher order thinking or self actualization so the app does do what it sets out to do. With these kind of educational apps, progress tracking is always useful, but if used as a group tool, then not as necessary. For a non-American, I found it particularly difficult to achieve any points but as I said, this is not a learning tool but more of an assessment tool and really only useful for students in USA.

Suggestions for updates: A different way to edit the spelling words. Normally on a tablet, it is possible to tap on the word to edit it, but in this app, tapping submits it. Perhaps a separate submit button, or submit using Enter. With the State Shape Challenge and the State Capital Challenge there could be different levels of difficulty for providing answers: Easy - a choice of five states, Medium - a choice of 25 states, Hard - a choice of 50 states. With the Flagstaff State Flag Game, lives could be won back with correct answers. The Honolulu State Spelling Bee could have the option to display the number of letters and/or a click and drag option to place letters.

Summary: When it comes to learning the states of America, there is no other way to do it than to learn by rote. Geography Drive Arcade provides a lot of useful information about each of the states, but the onus is on the students to remember all the information before attempting each of the activities. The activities themselves are rather challenging and would suit older kids and/or small groups.

Device/s used:
Phone - Samsung Galaxy S4 (Android 4.3)
Tablet - Samsung Galaxy Tab3 10.1" (Android 4.2.2)

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One day Cas would like to drive from one side of the USA to the other.

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Be sure to check out our other Spinlight Studio apps:



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