I'm a sucker for all things STEM so when OJO @learnwithojo reached out and asked if we wanted to try their board games, I was like are molecules made up of atoms? Yes and Yes! We were gifted DNA Factory and Atomic Force. Keep reading for a detailed review of each board game.
This was hands down the kids favorite of the two games. Let's get real any game that has a small catapult in it is going to draw a crowd with the little ones. There is a little bit of setup the first time you play, attaching velcro pieces and building the base to the catapult. DNA Factory is rated 5+ but my 3yo was able to play with supervision. This game allows for 1-3 plays and it takes about 15 minutes to play one game. I really like that the game can be played so quickly because it keeps short attention spans entertained. The quality of the game is great, but I would have liked a more sturdy catapult base which is made from cardboard that you have to build each time you play.
My main complaint, or rather suggestion is that I wish there were more hybrid animals to choose from. We had five hybrids and with the kids asking to play over and over I can see the same five hybrids getting old. Once this inevitably happens, I think we'll create our own hybrids, name them, and give them descriptions just like the cards. This game will be played for a long time to come! I would have also liked the instructions to be a bit more detailed, but not a deal breaker for me.
How to Play: The goal of the game is to be the first player to build your hybrid animal. You draw a card from either the head, torso, or legs pile depending on which part of your hybrid you want to work on. The card will either have a fun fact, question, or picture(s) of RNA. Depending on the number of RNA on the card that's how many chances you have to catapult the ball onto the target. But you only get your hybrid piece if you land on the corresponding target area. For example, if you draw a card from the torso pile with three RNA images, you get three chances to catapult the ball onto the orange torso area of the target. If you land in the orange section, you collect the torso you need to make your hybrid.
You build atoms and molecules to progress through the game ya'll! Atomic Force is rated 6+ and was a bit difficult for the older kids (5-6yo). However, with a few modifications to the playing rules the kids could get to the finish line and still learn important vocabulary like proton, neutron, electron, atom, and molecules. The quality of this game is excellent and all loose pieces (protons, neutrons, electrons, building boards) are made of sturdy cardboard. I love that this game helps kids learn to read a modified periodic table, teaches important vocabulary, and reinforces that molecules are made up of atoms.
How to Play: The goal of the game is to be the first player to the finish line, building atoms and molecules to progress through the game. There are four dice to roll, red (the number of spaces to move), blue (the number of electrons to collect), yellow (the number of protons to collect), and green (the number of neutrons to collect). Using the collected electrons, protons, and neutrons you build the corresponding atom or molecule you land on before being allowed to roll the red space moving dice again. First to the finish line wins!
Our Modification for younger kids: Instead of rolling all four dice, we only rolled the red dice. We still built the atoms or molecules, but the kids did not have to collect the correct amount to move on, they just had to build it. This gave them exposure to vocabulary and counting while simplifying the game.