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Feature Review

Skyscrapers by Tinybop
Price: $2.99
Runs on: iPad
File size: 181 MB
Ages: 6-up
For grades: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, S, Jr, Sr.
Teaches: social studies, buildings, science, physical science, urban planning, skyscrapers, architecture
Help children better understand the inner workings of the modern skyscraper with this well designed open-ended exploration experience. If you've used any of the other Tinybop apps (e.g., Human Body) you'll quickly get how this app works. A menu of viewing tools lets you explore the underlying process behind a typical skyscraper -- things like the plumbing, electricity and fire prevention systems.

After you create your profile (which automatically saves your skyscrapers), you get your own stubby skyscraper which you can customize by mixing and matching exterior colors and building tops. To make your building grow, you drag and drop floors until you reach the maximum height of 750 meters. While you can pinch and pull in our out, the buildings are not displayed true to scale. The buildings you see are set at a 3:1 ratio, so each floor added to a building in the app represents about three floors in height in a real building.

You can freely play with the elevators, water pipes and power move through the building. You can also test your building against clogged pipes, fires, wind, earthquakes and lightning. In one simulation, you can test different types of ground materials to see how much the building will lean. The elevator mode informally illustrates some of the math behind moving a crowd of people from one floor to another and the water mode shows what happens when the pipes back up. Note, that there is some animated pooping and peeing (complete with sounds); but no graphic details. The last two modes let you play with the electricity. You can turn on/off different rooms and see how much power the building uses.

As in the other Tinybop apps, there is a excellent labeling system, with word labels that can be dragged and dropped around your building, in your choice of dozens of languages. So you can quickly turn this app into a language experience, with words like compressor, foundation and circuit breaker.

There is no game element to this app, and there's not as much content as some of the other Tinybop apps. If you're looking for a game or city simulation, this isn't the app for you. While there are some confusing aspects to the interface, experience Tinybop players were instantly at ease. If you've played any of the Tinybop apps (one of the best is Human Body) you'll appreciate this app, and understand why it is a rich source of information for a child. At just $2.99, you'll find it a rich way to explore something that every child wonders about, but may not ask.

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CTR Aug 16 Feature Review Entered 07/20/2016 by Warren Buckleitner, Modified 12/13/2016 by Rebecca Lingelbach