There is a new series of educational apps for iPad that parents and educators should be aware of - namely, Leo’s Pad.
These apps - three that are currently available - are unique as they star interesting historical characters as children, specifically a young Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei and Marie Curie allowing this trio to be apart of unique science-themed interactions such as color mixing to create fuel with the help of Marie as children help assist Galileo build a rocket or help Leo work on interesting contraptions such as a catapult or unique vehicle, the gyro racer that has both elements of science fiction as well as a fun representation of the inventive ideas da Vinci is known for - much to the amusement of adults as well as children.
These appisodes are full of interactions that always further the storyline and are never distracting and include activities also found in other apps such as drawing, tracing or sorting, yet these tasks here are used to keep children fully immersed in the world that has been created within Leo’s Pad.
The look of these apps is marvelous, with computer generated images that rival CGI games geared towards adults, including the look of these characters, their hair and facial expressions - elements not always well realized in 3D computer-generated images such as this, with a resolution quite fine as well as bright and colorful, also including many moments of wonderfully lush landscapes further creating a world within Leo's Pad apps.
I must admit that I was a little hesitant regarding the idea of Leo’s Pad including child versions of these great scientists, to me reminiscent of the Muppet Babies, to me a lesser show staring animated Muppets that toss away the history of the Muppets characters meeting for all of them to conveniently be babies together, applicable here as it is obvious that in terms of time periods and location, that it is impossible for these three scientists to have been childhood friends - an adult concern that I let go of when I saw the overall quality of this app. Parents, however may want to explain who these characters are based on as well as the historically accurate time periods in which the characters lived.
The first of these apps is free, with the rest of these apps available for in-app purchases - add-ons that I am not typically keen about, but this is a rare time when this format works well. It also includes free glimpses of paid appisodes allowing parents to get a feel for what they are purchasing.
Parents and educators also may be interested in the free Parents' Pad section of this app which analyzes the progress made in these apps for each child's account, as multiple children can have their personal data saved within.
A lot of information is offered within the Parents' Pad and can be overwhelming at first glance. Do take the time to fully explore what this section has to offer, being an area that teachers will also find helpful for keeping tabs on the progress of their students within Leo’s Pad.
It is nice that children’s social intelligence is also touched upon here as seen in an area where the child, Leo, and Leo’s pet dragon all paint together, each with his own easel but sharing the paint brush, asking children to wait their turn. Although this section means well, I don’t think it translates as children are left staring at their blank canvas as others paint at the corners of the page - simply not engaging and also setting them up for frustration.
I would prefer watching others paint pictures directly as this is more interesting and gives children a chance to empathize with their painter working hard on his project so as not to steal the brush back. I simply could not help thinking during waiting my turn that Leonardo da Vinci has multiple easels to share but only owns a single paintbrush? I also am not a fan of making children share in general, preferring to set time limits and then pass along the toy or item in question to other children when ready.
Even with this note, there is an undeniable level of top quality within these apps and an obviously high level of work that has gone into Parents' Pad as well. The ability for difficulty of the tasks within this app to adapt to the ability of the user is quite interesting and makes these apps worthy choices for children of varied ages.
It is worth noting that the developers at Kidaptive have plans for 25 of these appisodes in the future, with appisode number four to be released soon. I am interested to see what new adventures these apps will bring, and look forward to more of these apps in the future.