REVIEW – Earlier this year, my son was diagnosed with ADHD, and since then I have been in pursuit of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) type kits and devices to aid in his growth, learning, and expression. It was very obvious that his creativity was one of his strong skills. He has the ability to put together or to fix just about any assortment of parts that seem unrelated to many but in fact do belong together. I have purchased a few different STEM kits and after seeing him actually become attentive for very long periods of time, I have been seeking as many kits of this type as I can possibly acquire. I am elated that I have the opportunity to test and review the PlayShifu Plugo STEM kit. Here is a summary of my experience with it.
What is it?
The PlayShifu Plugo is described by the manufacturer as “An AR gaming system to stimulate STEM skills”. The entire suite offers the power of AR and education combined in 5 gaming kits: Quest, Count, Link, Steer, and Piano.
This kit contains the Plugo Count which stimulates your child’s interest to solve mathematical questions and the Plugo Link which uses magnetic hexagon building blocks in the form of games to stimulate your child’s mental abilities with puzzles and constructional challenges. It is recommended for ages 5+.
What’s in the box
1 x Plugo Count Set
1 Count Spike
2 sets of 0-9 numerals
4 games on Plugo app
1 x Plugo Link Set
15 Hexagon blocks
4 games on Plugo app
1 x Plugo Gamepad
Design and features
The PlayShifu Plugo kit parts are made of plastic. The Count kit comes with 2 sets of 10 blue numbered game pieces with numbers on each side. One side in white and one is brown.
It also comes with two additional yellow pieces with a plus, minus, divide and subtract symbols, one symbol per side are included with each set of number pieces.
The Count central base piece is yellow and connects magnetically to the gamepad. One side has brown dots to direct how the piece should be used based on the game requirements and the side of the game pieces that should be used.
The gamepad is blue and folds out flat. On one end there is the spring-loaded mobile device holder that accepts the tablet or the phone. On the back, there is a purple PlayShifu logo.
Setting up the Plugo is very easy. Once you lay the gamepad flat and insert the tablet/phone into the spring loaded device holder slot the gamepad is ready to go. You then download the PlayShifu Plugo app and follow the setup instructions. Despite the compatibility instructions, I decided to try my 2nd generation iPad first because it is the only 9″ iPad in the home. The others that I have are 12.9″. I also knew that the IOS version was older but I gave it a shot and it initially worked all the way through the setup. It is only when I tried to play the games that the app crashed every time and I eventually had to reluctantly switch to my iPhone. This also explains why some of the pictures below are with an iPad and some with my iPhone.
Once you load the app it asks a math question which is the same every time you start the setup process. After that, you are prompted to select the grade level of your child. Then you are prompted to give the app access to the device camera and after that, there is a sync process to sync the modules. Once the syncing process is completed for each module, in this case, the Count and the Link are the modules that I have, you are ready to play.
In order to start using the plastic game pieces for the Link and the main control piece for the Count, they have to be paired with the gamepad. The following screens are the instruction screens for placing the required pieces on the gamepad so the pairing process can be completed.
Once the game pieces are paired to interact with the gamepad, you can select a game and a level. To select the module and the game you can either touch the screen and in the case of the Count module, you can place the game piece over the center spike of the base control piece. For example, if you place the game piece marked “3” over the center spike, it will select game 3. How it works is better explained in the following
As shown below, the game that I selected has 28 levels.
The pictures below show a link game that displays a word and requires you/child to connect the game pieces to match what is shown on the screen and spell the word.
The screens below show a game my child played using the Count module. and also below there is a video showing how the screen displays the confirmation for choosing the correct answer.
There are several games and levels that your child can play and interact with for hours of fun and learning. I am looking into buying additional modules like Quest and Steer that I know my children will love.
What I like
- The learning options that it provides
- The ease of use
- The smartphone/tablet compatibility
- The design that appears attractive to children
What can be improved
- A gamepad that can accommodate more of the popular and regularly used tablet sizes including the 12.9″ iPad
Over the past few months, as I have become more familiar with STEM learning tools, I have also become a fan. Using various STEM kits, I have watched in amazement as my son explores and showcases his creative abilities. The PlayShifu Plugo has added to his world and his ability to learn and grow via a mechanism that he understands and identifies with. Just like my other STEM kits, I give this one two thumbs up!!