A science book for playful people.

Fact Sheet

Earth: A Primer (or simply "Earth Primer")
Chaim Gingold
Oakland, CA

Chaim Gingold / press@earthprimer.com

App Store Link
Release Date
Feb. 3, 2015
iPad, iOS 7+

Mac App Store Link
Release Date
Jan. 9, 2018
Mac, macOS 10.8+

PC + More languages
In development; release date and pricing TBD.


Discover how our planet works through play! Create volcanoes, sculpt mountains, and control the forces of nature with your fingertips.

Earth Primer defies existing genres, combining aspects of science books, toys, simulations, and games. It is a new kind of interactive experience which joins the guided quality of a book with open ended simulation play. A key motivation behind the creation of Earth Primer is to model a new genre for other designers to borrow from, helping our culture reimagine the possibilities inherent to simulations and interactive books.

Earth Primer has won numerous awards, including Best STEM App from the American School Association of Librarians and Best of App Store from Apple, as well as praise from a variety of prestigious publications such as WIRED, CNN, and Popular Science.


Request Review Copy

Contact press@earthprimer.com to request an advance/review copy of Earth Primer.

About the Author

Chaim Gingold is well known for his unique and playful simulation design sensibility. He was handpicked by Will Wright (SimCity, The Sims) to join the original prototyping team for Spore (2008), where he designed the critically acclaimed Creature Creator. The New York Times described Spore as a “scintillating, empowering toy,” and praised the “genius bestowed on Spore’s creative facilities.” (Sep. 5, 2008). He is an active member of the independent game design community, and his work has been featured in the New York Times, Wired, CNN, and Fast Company. Chaim was awarded a Ph.D. for research on how to design for play, which explored the relationship between playgrounds, toys, and computers.

You can learn more about Chaim and his work at http://chaim.io


While working on Spore, I saw great opportunity in the many interesting simulation prototypes we made but left on the cutting room floor because they didn’t neatly fit into the logic of a game. Earth Primer grew out of my fascination with geomorphology and a desire to invent a genre in which playful simulations could become part of a finished experience—even if it wasn’t a game.

I've set out to reimagine digital books as deeply interactive experiences brought to life via simulation and appealing visuals—much like contemporary computer games. In development for over three years, Earth Primer began life as a geomorphology simulation for another project, but through ongoing conversations with Bret Victor, transformed into an interactive book.

A central design premise of the project is that one must become immersed within and fascinated by a subject in order to to truly learn and engage with it. Earth Primer’s dynamic, playable, and interactive models of Earth share my enthusiasm for earth science in a tangible and fun form. SimCity, analogously, inspires a deep interest in cities and shares its creator’s fascination with urban planning. This is what good teachers and museums do: share and inspire a deep love for a topic.

Hopefully Earth Primer serves as a model for other designers to borrow from, helping our culture reimagine the possibilities inherent to simulations and interactive books.


Chaim Gingold
Design, writing, programming, and production.
Cliff Caruthers
Sound design and music
Michelle M. Lee
Chapter and title illustrations
Laura Kaltman
Release video and title design
Pete Demoreuille
Additional programming



Icon, Title, Author Photo

Awards & Recognition

  • App Store Best of 2015
  • Best New App
  • Featured Educational App
  • Top 10 Educational App Debut
  • Top 100 App Debut
  • Apple App Store
  • American Association of School Librarians, Best STEM App (2016)
  • Cyblis Awards, Book App Finalist (2015)
  • Tokyo Digital Children's Book Fair, Official Selection (2017)
  • Fast Co., Innovation By Design Award, Finalist (2015)
  • Experimental Gameplay Workshop, Game Developers Conference, Official Selection (2015)
  • IndieCade, Official Selection E3 (2015)
  • IndieCade, Finalist (2011)
  • “...an inspiring design experiment, and a reminder that interactive media is a young and undeveloped world itself.”

    Kyle VanHemert, WIRED

    “...so effortlessly beautiful that as I messed around with it, I thought it was bound to show up in an official Apple ad one day or another. That's how perfectly it realizes the promise of a truly interactive textbook.”

    John Brownlee, Fast Company

    “ ...the app is very beautiful, it's very engaging — it's really well designed.”

    Kristie Lu Stout, CNN International
    (video interview)

    “Using the app gave me something of an epiphany; I want every book to be this awesome. ...absolutely worth every cent.”

    Owen Williams, The Next Web

    “the future of education... sets a high benchmark for what educational apps should be aspiring to. ... Now we just need to wait for the rest of the education market to catch up.”

    Luke Dormehl, Cult of Mac

    “A Sandbox for the Anthropocene ... This is much more than a toy. It is a catalyst for thinking about our world. ... In this era of the Anthropocene, where humanity is having an unprecedented effect on our planet, knowing how all the various planetary systems and processes hang together is more important than ever. And being able to do this with a sense of play is truly a joy.”

    Samuel Arbesman, WIRED

    “Outstanding interactive models ...one of the most deluxe, and memorable educational apps available... an absolute must if you, or anyone you know wants to learn about the Earth.” 5/5

    Trevor Sheridan, Apple n Apps

    “It looks amazing... Can't wait to explore this, with and without the kids.”

    Jason Kottke

    “A tour de force”

    Bret Victor

    “The most awesome app ever for introducing Geomorphology to a young audience; and it captivated this fifty-one year old 'youngster' too.”

    Alan Parkinson, Award Winning Teacher

    “My 4 year-old cannot put this down. ... It’s definitely geared toward the younger set, but I’ll admit to succumbing to its charms and paging through page after interactive page. ...brings back memories of sitting forever in the terrain editor in SimCity 2000”

    Dave Neumann, Pocket Tactics

    “fantastic... The years of work which the developer put into making this app are immediately apparent and appreciated.”

    Bett Nolan, App Addict

    “a fresh level of interactivity... not to mention a healthy dose of sensory pleasure”


    “Every animation, interaction and section is a joy to experience. ... magnificent”

    Quinton O'Reilly, business etc | thejournal.ie

    “playful, child-like, beautifully designed reenvisioning of the book”


    “It’s a lot of fun for kids and adults alike. ...a delightful experience.”

    Tools and Toys

    “Really helps students to understand how our planet works”

    UK Ed Chat

    “a sneak peek at the future of digital learning”

    Lisa Caplan, The Appzine

    International praise

    “Erdkunde für Verkaterte”

    Christoph Behrens, Süddeutsche Zeitung

    “Earth Primer, una app educativa para iPad con el objetivo de enseñar a los más pequeños cómo funciona la Tierra”

    Sergio Asenjo, wwwhat's new'

    “Kreativ iPad-app klargjør kloden: Simuler klimatiske og geologiske prosesser med touch-metoden.”

    Arno Vaa, Macworld

    “Earth Primer: speel en leer met de aarde”

    Bram Balk, iCulture

    “Earth – A Primer – földrajz interaktívan”

    Nincs Hozzászólás, szifon.com

    And more: