Finding Stubby is a simulation app that pulls users deep under the ocean to explore using a Remotely Operated Vehicle. The app is sprinkled with multiple choice questions that help users learn about a variety of sea creatures as well as labels and explanations for some important processes, such as echolocation.
No time limits or stressful music
Lots of content area to explore
Quizzes and explanations embedded in certain items
Beautiful graphics and sounds
Finding Stubby is a high quality app. Developers worked hard to make the interface intuitive and friendly for young children. Every feature seems to work smoothly and easily. The one area that could be improved is to add a parents’ area containing an explanation of the app’s features and benefits. For example, by trial and error I discovered that the sub could use its robotic arm to pick up an empty bottle littering the ocean, but I could not figure out what I was to do with it once I had grabbed it. Some clarification for adult mentors would be very helpful, especially for children who are easily frustrated or low on creative sparks.
This app presents some good information, primarily in the form of multiple choice quizzes that pop up when the user clicks on the item or animal. The quizzes are self-correcting in that users cannot choose a wrong answer-it simply shakes and stays in place when correct choices cause the incorrect ones to disappear. There are also some short explanatory pieces, such as one telling how whales use echolocation in the depths of the ocean to find food. The main drawback is that these features are print-based, and some are somewhat difficult to read. This will limit the app’s educational value to children who have a reading level of about grade 2 or 3 and lower. One solution would be to add some optional narration.
Also, this app, at this time anyway, does not seem to have a wealth of content. There are a handful of facts about at least three different kinds of ocean creatures, and an explanation of echolocation and also of a whale skeleton that I found in my explorations, but there was also an awful lot of empty ocean. Players will get a relatively realistic look at different parts of the ocean, with a handy depth monitor that follows the vehicle around as it travels. There is also some educational value in learning how to control the ROV-users will quickly master some basic physics as they figure out how to dive or climb and how to turn the vehicle around.
This app is quite soothing to use, so if your child prefers a relaxed and low-key play setting, it will be perfect. There are no flashing lights or buzzers, just the quiet of the ocean’s depths and some soft music. This “feature” is certainly a matter of taste whether children will find it relaxing or boring. Users earn a star for each correctly answered question, but there is no explanation about whether the stars are useful in some way or if the fun is in watching them accumulate.
Finding Stubby is free on the App Store, so it’s a great value. It’s a very pleasant app with some educational content, and children are likely to play with it for a bit, if only to have the fun of controlling the vehicle. And as they play, they will learn sort of by osmosis as the app presents its information to them in a gentle yet persistent manner.
Finding Stubby is a pleasant, low-key app that will help younger children discover some basic information, facts, and more as they pilot a remotely-operated vehicle down into the very bottom parts of the ocean floor.