Toca Lab: Elements

LQ: 9

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Brain grade: 9.5
Fun score: 8.5

Platform/Console: , LWK Recommended Age: 6+ Thinking Skills Used: , ,

Toca Lab: Elements is a science education app from Toca Boca. As with all of Toca’s “digital toys,” Toca Lab: Elements offers kids a traditional learning-through-play experience in a mobile gaming package. Users are able to learn about all 118 elements in the periodic table the way a real-life scientist would — through experimentation.

Toca Lab: Elements helps kids gain valuable factual knowledge, build thinking skills, and develop an understanding of the field of science in general. Your child will poke, squeeze, burn, freeze, spin, electrify, and magnify their way to an understanding of what makes up the world around them. They’ll also learn how to ask questions and think outside the box, all while getting important practice with focus, flexibility, and working memory.

Toca Lab: Elements is rated E (for everyone) by the ESRB and kids 4+ on the iTunes App store, but we feel that kids who aren’t strong self-led learners (and need help when it comes to an Internet search) should have parental guidance and input.


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USE THIS APP TO HELP YOUR CHILD WITH:

Flexibility

Flexibility is the thinking skill that helps us adapt to new situations, learn from mistakes and change what we are doing in order to deal with different challenges. Learn more about flexibility.

The first lesson a scientist learns is to stay cognitively flexible. Science is built on theory supported by facts, and sometimes new information changes a little or a lot about what we know. To make progress in science (as in life), we need to try new things, work around obstacles, and be willing to try again when things don’t go as planned.

Toca Lab: Elements is an excellent low-pressure setting to exercise these aspects of flexibility. Your child may really like to freeze elements, but what happens when they are electrified? They wanted to find something new by boiling an element, but instead it disappeared. Help them think about their experiments as question-and-answer, cause-and-effect.

Focus

Focus is the thinking skill that helps us maintain our attention and effort, start tasks and keep working on something without getting distracted. Learn more about focus.

It’s easy to get sidetracked when faced with all the gadgets and gizmos in the lab. And especially as your young scientist’s efforts bring about discovery after discovery. Challenge them to focus on experimenting with just one element until they’ve exhausted all possibilities.

Another challenge comes to researching the elements your child discovers. Toca Lab: Elements only offers the symbol and atomic number of each element on the periodic table, so if your budding scientist wants more information, they’re going to have to hit the Web. Can they stay focused? Set a timer and give them 5 minutes to look at a particular element before moving on.

Working Memory

Working memory is the thinking skill that helps us to recall and retain information in our minds while we are working, follow multi-step directions, and solve problems in our heads. Learn more about working memory.

The way Toca Lab: Elements helps kids exercise working memory is simple but effective. As kids are working with an element, they’ll be able to put it through all kinds of tests. Have I frozen this one before? Have I dropped mystery liquid on that one yet? These questions are easy to answer at first, but as the periodic table grows, the possibilities can get overwhelming quickly. Help your child arrive at a method (a notebook and pen is an easy one) that helps them remember what they’ve done, what they want to try, and even what they've learned from their independent research.

GET INVOLVED:

Sit with your child as they use Toca Lab: Elements. Ask them to explain the app to you and how they use it, including any strategies or tricks they have discovered. Talk to them about the way Toca Lab: Elements uses the focus, flexibility, and working memory thinking skills. Help them apply the skills they use in Toca Lab: Elements in daily life with our thinking skill activities.

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