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For Grown-Ups

Welcome to our design letter

“Chemistry is the study of matter, but I prefer to see it as the study of change”

Science is a magical thing, that’s what we at Toca Boca think. Separate things coming together to create something completely new is mind-boggling, to be able to be part of such an experiment is simply astounding! We wanted to create an experience that is as mysterious as it is logical with cause and effect. Toca Lab is the fruit of our research. Your children will surely have come across different types of experiments already. However, we see Toca Lab as the potentially first contact with a pure scientific context all little scientists and future professors might have and remember as years go by.

In Toca Lab you and your children get to play around with a series of smaller experiments, exploring concepts like consistency, temperature, blending things together, different types of energy and more. Performing certain experiments will even change your elements to something brand new, letting you explore the entire periodic table of chemical elements! While the periodic table in Toca Lab is accurate, the way new elements are created is not. The elements are curious but friendly, be nice to them and they might just explain the world to you…

How to play
In Toca Lab you perform experiments on chemical elements. The elements are depicted as blob characters. You can drag the element around the lab and you can use the different lab equipment propped up on the shelves of the lab by tapping on them.

There are five different tools of lab equipment:

Bunsen Burner Bunsen burner – turn the heat on by adjusting the slider on the burner. The element will start smoking as it gets hotter.

Centrifuge Centrifuge – spin the wheel around by swiping it, stop it by holding down your finger. The element will soften and get squishier if you spin it for awhile.

Oscilloscope Oscilloscope – control the waves of electricity with the slider. The element will get a bit conductive and magnetic. Shocking!

Cooling Agent Cooling agent – grab the nozzle and freeze the element into an ice cube.

Test Tubes Test tubes – blend together different colored fluids by dragging and pouring the three test tubes into the flask. Certain mixtures will end up with potent reactions, can you figure out what mixtures? (HINT: the different element phases each have a specific mixture)

As you experiment with the tools you will eventually discover new elements. These are tracked in the periodic table chart that can be accessed by pulling the string dangling in the upper edge of the lab. In the periodic table chart you can choose which element to do experiments on. You also get hints on how to evolve your currently discovered elements even further.

To talk about
There’s a lot of things to explore in Toca Lab so take your time to get a feel for everything. Some children might be more intrigued by discovering new elements while others find that goofing around in the lab together with the elements are equally fun. Both are experiments in their own way, but it might be fun to challenge yourself to alternate between the different types of play from time to time. What can you do to evolve this element? What are the specific attributes of the element you’re holding?

Remember that you as a parent probably know a whole lot about chemistry! What is the force behind the different experiment reactions? Is the element hot or cold right now? What are the uses of some of the elements you discover? Explaining that your child has found Gold (Au) or even Carbon (C) and what these elements are in real life might just give these discoveries a whole new depth of meaning.

At school or kindergarten the concept of experiments is introduced quite early. And although these experiments are much simpler than those depicted in Toca Lab you might actually be surprised of your children’s knowledge of pretty complex concepts.

In the Settings panel of your Apple device, there is an icon for Toca Lab. If you open it you can erase all progress made in discovering new elements in the periodic table. There are also options for showing the “Toca News” and “For Grown-Ups” buttons on the start screen as well as an option for toggling the music playback on and off. Please note that some of these settings may require the application to be restarted to take effect.

Be cool stay in school!
Mårten Brüggemann, Play Designer