'Galxyz' Science Education App: A Review

Education Entertainment Geek Culture Reviews Technology

Galxyz curriculumGalxyz is a new science education app for tablet computers (or playable online) intended for children in upper elementary school (third grade and up: the ability to read is a requirement for independent play). It’s based on the Next Generation Science Standards, the first interactive learning experience to do so. When GeekDad Curtis Silver let us know it was available (he’s their social media guy), we jumped on it. My eight-year-old rising-third-grade daughter and I have been playing it on my iPad for a few days now and we’ve really enjoyed it.

The app uses a narrative structure in which a young blue-skinned person named Thalo (you can choose a male or female version: my daughter chose the female version) walks through an icy landscape and meets a small flying squirrel-like creature. The creature turns out to be Grit, a Chakkaran on a mission to protect the Tome and guard scientific knowledge. Grit guides Thalo through text to explore aspects of science, and, along the way, teaches scientific terminology and concepts.

galxyz dialogueMy daughter really enjoyed the app overall and I found it both fun and informative. We played the first two modules, and I’ve promised to buy her the additional modules for our upcoming road trip to Grandma’s house. The pricing model seems reasonable to me, at ninety-nine cents for on new module, $7.99 for all available modules or a subscription option for all future modules. The first two modules took her around twenty minutes each to complete, and she has enjoyed repeat play with them while she waits for road trip day.

Things we liked:

  • The app does a good job cuing you as to what to do, with onscreen arrows or hints in the dialogue boxes. At the beginning, there’s even a giant blue hand that demonstrates how to move your character through the landscape. It was very intuitive for my Minecraft-loving girl.
  • My daughter enjoyed the way Thalo and Grit talked. Everything Grit says sounds like the word “Cake!” or “Thalo!” and Thalo speaks in emotive sounds, but their words are translated into English above in colorful thought bubbles, color-coded to match the characters.
  • The animation is attractive and the characters are cute.
  • My daughter enjoyed playing with the appearance options for her character (though we did wonder why hair options are under “cubbies”).
  • The narrative structure definitely worked to pull her in with curiosity about what was going to happen next.

Things that we didn’t like:

  • Some of the dialogue is forced. As a teacher myself, I know it can be difficult to work the content into the fun in a way that feels natural. Galxyz succeeds better at some times than others.
  • Sometimes we got out of sequence. For example, my daughter found the area where you can choose appearance details for your avatar before the game wanted her to, and she had to re-enter it later when the narrative wanted her to. When we replayed it, we opened the door without picking the armor first. She didn’t find that particularly frustrating, but I found it clumsy.
  • There’s a BIG jump between the simple pattern-matching activities of the first couple of puzzles into remembering vocabulary detail from the lecture with a lot of detail and specificity. My daughter got frustrated when she couldn’t instantly remember all the information she needed for that puzzle.
  • You cannot begin using the app if you are not connected to the internet. We bought the app for our daughter at home, then handed the iPad to her in the car, only to find she couldn’t play until we did some set-up online first. That’s not a problem overall, but there’s nothing in the opening screens to tell us that, so we were caught by surprise.
  • If you don’t confirm your email right away, there’s a constant scrolling message asking you to do so. It’s a little naggy and annoying (to me; my daughter didn’t care).

All in all, it’s an enjoyable app that looks promising for the science terminology our daughter will be exposed to in her play. I recommend it.

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2 thoughts on “'Galxyz' Science Education App: A Review

  1. I tried the online/browser addition after reading your article. App wise, it’s a good start but not quite something that would keep my 8 yo’s attention. The browser version is hard to navigate and play, the characters make the same annoying exclamations and noises as you click through the dialog one line at a time. To tell you the truth, I was bored after 5 minutes of struggling with the controls and listening to the same “wordless exclamations” over and over and over. (I didn’t try the android app since that would mean giving my kid my 10″ android tablet (no Kindle Fire app!?!?!?!) once he realized it was on there!)

    I will say this for them – I was so happy to see that they released an browser, ipad AND android version at the same time. I get so discouraged when I see educational producers only create stuff for the iPad. You know, not everyone can afford that $600+ device! Decent Android devices are much more “obtainable” by the general public.

    I made this complaint to one of the game creators that you reviewed a few months ago – why only an iPad version? And he pretty much told me “Well, that’s what is in schools! We want to reach as many under privileged kids out there!” I didn’t want to break it to him that if you live in a “poor” area, the schools are far too strapped for cash to buy every student in their school an iPad NOR can their parents afford such luxuries. BUT Grandma might be able to afford the $200 it costs to get a cheap 10″ android next Christmas for all the kids to share.

  2. Thank you for your thoughts! My daughter and I didn’t play with the browser version, so I can’t really comment on how well it works, but I’m sure our readers will appreciate hearing from someone who did.

    The sounds did annoy me after a while, too, but not my daughter, and I thought that letting the child control the pace of the scroll was wise, allowing for a variety of reading speeds.

    It’s true that Android tablets are cheaper . . .but it is also true that iPads are more commonly bought in classroom sets for elementary schools (at least in districts I have taught in). Apple has a long history of marketing to schools, and giving discounts and tech support. That history is reflected in buying habits of schools today. Maybe that will change as time goes on, especially with the popularity of Android devices on the rise.

    I see your point about the game not holding every child’s interest. It is a quiet game, which might make it a harder sell for more active children. Thanks again for commenting!

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