Meet The Insects: Village Edition by NCSoft- Review

Meet The Insects: Village Edition is the second in a series of insect encyclopedia iPad apps from NCSOFT, the developer of Injini. You can read our review of the first installment Meet The Insects: Forest here. The app is an interactive encyclopedia for the budding entomologist, with information, pictures and videos on a variety of different insects that live in meadows and villages. It follows the same format as the previous app but focuses on a different group of insects. The app contains no adverts, in-app purchases or social media links. The insect information in the app is provided by National Science Museum of Korea.

There are five different parts of the app: insect story, see the insects, quizzes, multimedia and the observation journal.

Insect Story: This is a good place to start, as it gives the student an introduction to insects, teaching them some basic facts about their classification, lifecycle and features. This is done as a series of short, narrated cartoon videos. Some of this is the same as in the first app, but there is also some new information specific to insects that live around our homes in rural environments.

See the Insects: This is the main part of the app, and is an interactive insect encyclopedia. Navigation through the encyclopedia is by swiping through a series of meadow scenes, the insects in the different sections are on plants and flowers in the meadow. Insects featured in the app are from the order Diptera (flies), Hemiptera (cicada), Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), Coleoptera (beetles, ladybugs) and Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets). The meadow can be viewed at night or day, and is accompanied by insect sounds to suit the time of day. For each order there is an introductory screen which teaches the student about that order, its features, lifecycle and feeding habits. The student can also use a magnifying glass to look more closely at the insect and learn about its body parts. There are also post-it notes with more information if you click on them. After the introduction, come screens that look like specimen boxes containing an insect which moves if you touch it! It also contains photos, videos and short notes about the insect. The high quality photos and videos show the insect in it’s natural surroundings. and the videos are narrated to explain what is happening. Touching the videos brings them up on the full-screen. The videos are very short and have background music; they give a fascinating close-up view of the insects life, though I would like to see an option to turn the music down or off.

Quiz: There are two options in the quiz section- X and O, and a photo quiz. In the X and O quiz the student is shown a statement about village insects and have 10 seconds to decide if it’s true or false. In the photo quiz there is a statement or description e.g. “active at night” or “moth” and the student has to pick which one of 3 photos matches the statement. In each quiz there are 10 questions, and the correct answer is displayed after each question, so the student can learn from it, even if they get the answer wrong.

Multi-Media: This a library of the pictures and videos in the app, allowing the student to quickly scroll through them and pick out their favorites.

The Observation Journal: This brings what the student has learned, into the real world. They can insert photos of insects they find and make notes about them, including where they found it and what the weather conditions were. The journal also automatically records the date of the entry, and this can be changed if they are writing about a past event.

It would be nice to add options to independently control the background music, as the music can be quite loud compared to the narration. The navigation can be a little confusing at times as arrows appear on the screen which make you think touching them will bring up the next screen, but they are in fact just reminders to swipe.

Overall, this is a very nicely done app for the budding entomologist. The insect story is a nice introduction to insects that live around our homes. The graphics, photographs, and videos are all very high quality. Older elementary school students will enjoy this app most, but those who are not yet confident readers can also enjoy it, as the app is fully narrated. I like the addition of the quizzes, and the journal is useful to encourage students to study insects in the real world.  My 3rd grader enjoyed the app and learning about different insects. It is a large app (636 MB), so be prepared that it will take some time to download.