Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Crazy Gears

Crazy Gears

Fall 2015 Mobile Apps
Ages: 5 - 9 yrs.
Developer: Seven Academy
Download Price: $1.99
Platform: iPad

Before children can grow up to fix cars or be mechanical engineers, before they ever even play with Erector sets, K'nex, or Lego Technic, they are learning about machines -- how forces from one object can act on another to cause a change. Crazy Gears from Seven Academy lets children ages 6 to 8 (or children of all ages, from 3 to 133) practice playing with mechanical gears. In a series of 90 levels of increasing difficulty, players adjust the gears and coupling rods to pull a chain or shift a rack to bring the next level onto the screen. Later levels introduce pulleys, weighted hooks, and barriers for further physical manipulations.

The app offers no instructions, preferring for children to learn the rules by exploration. Occasionally this can lead to minor frustrations -- one cannot connect by coupling rod two powered gears moving in opposite directions, for example, and the screen cannot advance if there are pieces blocking its movement. Despite the occasional hiccup, kids loved playing through the levels. Older children can finish them in an hour or two, but there is enough challenge to keep the target age range occupied for much longer, and the youngest children even appreciate re-playing the levels. It would be a welcome addition if the developers would include open-play levels with a library of pieces for when children finish the fixed levels.

The app also includes a grown-ups' corner with level walkthroughs and an educational handbook for inclusion in school curricula, with lots of "food for thought" and questions to pose for budding engineers. Crazy Gears is compelling, challenging, and, yes, even a little crazy. Kids will love it, and their parents will love seeing them learn.

Emily Crawford   ©2015 Parents' Choice
Emily holds a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Duke University and a Master's in computer engineering from Georgia Tech. She is a homeschooling parent and lives with her husband, three children, five cats, and thousands of LEGOs in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Look for this product at:
Seven Academy
Available on iTunes

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