Hey, Kids Explore the Universe with Tick Bait — iPad App Review

From the vast observable universe to the unconscionably small quark, Tick Bait’s Universe for iPad puts an impressive amount of information at a student’s fingertips without ever overwhelming him.

Aimed at 8 – 13-year-old students, Tick Bait’s concept is simple: the app begins with our world, where the user stands above a “scratchy, dirty dog named Tick Bait.” From there the reader uses pinch gestures to zoom in or out by powers of 10 to explore the very, very big and the very, very small.

Each screen features a picture of what the user finds at that scale. So at 0.00000001 meters we find DNA. The scale is marked in scientific notation, as well as a few pertinent facts and a quiz question.


When the iPad is in portrait orientation the user sees only the image, but when the iPad is in landscape orientation, additional factual information is available, as well as a question about the page that kids can answer.

Sample questions include:

  • Why do thunderheads have flat tops?
  • How tall is the tallest building on earth?
  • What microscopic things live on us?
  • What is bigger: viruses or bacteria?
  • How can DNA be a code?

Tick Bait’s Universe touches on so much more than the concept that the universe contains objects of radically different scales. It introduces concepts in biology, chemistry, astronomy, and earth science, while also encouraging students to make connections between disciplines rather than viewing them as separate, unrelated entities.

Download Tick Bait’s Universe for iPad from the App store for $4.99.

What I liked: Tick Bait’s Universe for iPad uses humor (“see Tick Bait’s house, that she is NOT allowed inside because she is so dirty”) without dumbing down its content (atomic orbitals and super clusters of galaxies make an appearance). The developer does a great job of giving kids just the right amount of information, so as Tick Bait’s story unfolds children are challenged but not confused.

What I didn’t like: I would have liked the option to mute the sound effects from within the app.

To buy or not to buy: Tick Bait’s Universe for iPad can be enjoyed in the home or in a classroom as it offers users an impressive amount of information presented in a way so children will want to read about it. There are not enough high quality apps aimed at the late elementary and middle school audience, and Tick Bait helps fill this void. Hopefully developers will create more apps like this one.  Exploring with Tick Bait may mark many student’s first exposure to some complex scientific concepts, and the will prepare them (and encourage them) to study science at a higher level.

About Emily: Emily is a freelance writer who loves discovering new apps whenever she can pry the iPad away from her children or husband. You can contact her via Twitter: @whatwentwrite