Green UpSpring 2013 Mobile Apps
Amid the seemingly endless apps for math and literacy education, it is a pleasure to find one application that is focused on science. In Green Up, a thorough tutorial guides players through the life of a plant, from seed to harvest. Children learn about feeding and watering the plant, fending off insects, protecting it from frost, and pollinating it. After the tutorial, players can try planting a wide variety of seeds, as many as they can maintain at one time, in any of four different biomes. Helpful "Dr. Green" appears at intervals to ask a question about the player's plant knowledge, ranging from the trivially easy ("Which is the root of the plant?") to advanced elementary/middle school-level knowledge ("Is the petiole part of the flower or the leaf?"); a correct answer earns the player useful feedback about the water and fertilizer needs of the plants.
A pleasant piano soundtrack gives the game a zen-like quality as players wait for time to pass; impatient gardeners can play in double-time. Much to my surprise, even my action-oriented children found the app compelling. The artwork is a little flat, and parents might wish for more useful information about the fertilizer (Is it compost? A chemical blend? By contrast, three different pollinators are available), but the application promises a high learning-to-time played ratio at the outset and continued quiet entertainment even over the long term.