Sid’s Science Fair is a really fun and educational app based on the hit PBS show, Sid the Science Kid, a favorite show in our home.
My son and I enjoy watching Sid the Science Kid together as it explores not only different science concepts but has a lovely point-of-view by including this show’s characters as young scientists themselves as they collect data and perform experiments and observations. This show is highly educational as well as very witty and entertaining with great characters having distinct personalities and lots of humor mixed in. I am impressed by this show’s ability not only to teach science-related information but to encourage children's interest in science in general and to think like scientists - possibly as a career years in the future.
I was very excited to hear of this new app - Sid’s Science Fair - as we have had very good success with the other PBS apps which are based on TV. shows, specifically Super Why! and Martha Speaks Dog Party.
For those who have not watched Sid the Science Kid before, the look of the show is wonderfully bright computer-generated images. Even the different characters have skin and hair wonderfully stylized in a way that is utterly Sid. This app does not disappoint in the looks department and looks exactly as one might expect if a fan of this show, as this app makes Sid and his gang look even more crisp and vivid than what we see on television.
This app starts out with Sid introducing the audience to his school’s science fair, offering kids three different science-related activities to choose from:
Gabriela’s “Collection Inspection” offers kids the chance to use an interactive magnifying glass to look for specific details found among a variety of objects, such as leaves, butterflies, or sea shells. Here, a specific detail is shown in a circle to the right of the screen, and the player uses the provided magnifier to match this same spot found among the patterns and details within these collections. There are 14 collections offered, and although the collections are fixed, the spot one is looking for is always different so the re-play value of this section is great. I really appreciate the different collections offered and how one can take his time looking at what each section has to offer before finding the specific detail in question.
May’s “Chart It!” goes into detail about charting data into different traits, such as color, shape, type, position or patterns, having the player drag and drop said objects where they belong. Seven collections are offered here, such as flowers, buttons, origami, or balloon animals. Within these groupings, there are ten individual objects and three charts to be worked on, which will vary per collection. I enjoy this section as well, because although children learn such categories as color or shapes early on, here this becomes a science-based activity, using this basic knowledge as data, getting kids ready to learn about and to be excited for science in school and beyond.
Gerald’s “Time Machine” is a very nice way to discuss sequencing. Here, 14 picture collections are offered, such as the sprouting of a seedling as well as the melting down of candles and a snowman. Each collection contains five images that one needs to sequence correctly, and it is especially nice that both backward and forward work correctly as long as the order is proper. After this is complete, one can run a finger back and forth under the correct sequence of photos to watch the time machine in action, with such images as a tomato developing mold - my favorite interaction. It is also nice that some of these choices could be seen in real time, such as a geyser exploding or a space shuttle being launched into space or over a short period, like melting ice or an apple being eaten, but my favorite collections include the growing of a seedling as well as both tomatoes and strawberries decaying, as these changes take days or longer, making great use of the time machine concept.
Each of these sections has the fun and catchy theme song from the TV. show - a piece of music very easy to listen to over a long period of time, as well as each character offering friendly tips on how to work his section, as well as enthusiastic banter throughout, praising the player for a job well done.
I really enjoy Sid as a role model for my son, as he is smart and funny, kind to his friends and family, and has a love of learning that any parent would appreciate have rub off on their child. I also really like the fact that two of these characters from the show and this app are girls - something I think might interest parents of daughters, offering them female role models who love science.
Some parent may note that at $2.99, this app, as well as others developed by PBS, are more expensive than other applications primarily for iPhone, but in my opinion are worth the money for both the educational value as well as the production value offered. My son and I really enjoy Sid’s Science Fair a lot, and we are still working with the other PBS educational apps we play long after the initial purchase, making them a great value. I do hope, however, that PBS will at some point turn their apps into universal applications, as this price for a universal app is easier for parents to swallow.