Bottom Line: Although the story of a test tube wandering around the world isn’t very memorable, the experiments and explanations about the science behind them are memorable and the illustrations are pretty adorable to boot. Parents that are willing to hang out with their kiddos and and get their science “on” will find a lot of fun in this app.
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This app has no ads, no in-app purchases and parent-protected external links to social media.
Trybie is a test tube that lives in a big city with other scientific containers like flasks and pipettes who decides to travel. The app carries Trybie on adventures that set users up for experiments that are dispersed throughout the book and placed in appropriate places to match the story. The story itself is a tad bland for the serious story-telling crowd, but since this story is pretty much a ruse to get kids interested in the science around them, I found myself letting that slide for a couple of reasons. For one, the app is cute to look at and doesn’t have any jarring music or unnecessary interactive elements to distract from the point of the whole thing which is science for kids. The other reason for letting a lackluster story free to do as it will is because the experiments included are very thorough with recipes, steps in the scientific processes that happen as well as their placement within the story is appropriate instead of haphazard.
The app opens to a title page after warnings about safety, parental guidance and signing an oath to read book and learn different subjects and “I will strive to become an inventor…” which comes complete with a wax seal and a quill to make it all very official. Beginning on the title page and through the book, users may toggle between seeing options or having them disappear by double-tapping anywhere on the page. When they are visible, users can go to the main menu which is basically a chapter selection based on the story surrounding each of the 13 experiments (11 chapters, but one has two experiments). Users may also adjust font size and brightness in settings located in the upper right corner or move quickly though the book by sliding a button on the bottom of the screen that shows page numbers.
This app is serious about safety and I assume never wanting an angry email from parents because each experiment is preceded by a pop-up explaining what kind of safety equipment like goggles and ventilation is needed as well as a parent advisory about using hot things and sharp objects. The experiments run the gamut from the simple baking soda and vinegar fun we all remember as children to invisible ink and making glowing liquids like fireflies that does not depend on buying glow sticks from the dollar store. These recipes are the real deal with ingredients like “alum stone powder” and “potassium ferrycianide”. I studied visual arts and speech communication in school so Amazon was my best friend for this review and I’m guessing it will be for most parents who are hoping for a scientist in the family. Don’t worry, anything you need can be found on Amazon and most likely at your local pharmacy.
The app works well without any noticeable bugs. I did think the app could do with a few additions since it is made for users six to eight years old which include narration and a glossary. Even with a parent participating, an app for children should allow those children to explore without a parent when they want to revisit or plan ahead for time together. Narration could help with young scientists who aren’t terribly strong readers and also help with pronouncing some of the ingredients for the recipes. A glossary (also with narration) is always helpful for this age group, especially for science and would be a great addition to this app. One last thing that may or may not matter to other users, but as an iPad user,
I love being able to view apps when I have my device situated horizontally. This app is only viewable in the vertical position and I would love to see it tweaked for iPad users in future updates.
Overall, I think the app performed well and fulfilled its promise of science and a story while delivering it in a way that will make some users want to revisit several times and hopefully create a spark of learning for future scientists.
Cynthia is mother to a few gifted kiddos and she needs a glossary of scientific terms for simple discussions on why they must take showers and help mom around the house. *Smart Apps for Kids was paid a priority review fee for this post.