Everyone in our family has their own iPad and we used them constantly. The boys paid for their own when they got tired of getting our hand-me-downs. We can track our schedules, read books, including a good portion of our ‘school’ books, learn and practice foreign languages, watch educational videos (Brainpop & youtube) and of course, play games. Here are some of our favorite and most used apps that we use for science.
Solar System by Touchpress… actually any of the apps by Touchpress are just beautiful. They’re usually pretty pricey, $8 to $15 but they were on sale just last week for $3 or less. I snatched up a couple more that I didn’t have. I use the Solar System app and The Elements by Theodore Gray in my classes quite a bit. When my kids were younger they enjoyed the Barefoot World Atlas. Skulls by Simon Winchester is another gorgeous app by Touchpress Limited. You can rotate 3D images of skulls of different animals with a swipe of your finger – great for biology.
For doing physics experiments, the Video Physics app by Vernier I mentioned in my earlier post on Physics is fantastic. We’l be using that one a lot this next year. They also make a Graphical Analysis app that you can use to make nice graphs and do linear fits to your data.
Sound Uncovered by the Exploratorium is a fun, and FREE app that has 15 interactive lessons on sound. The kids were fighting over this app in my class. You can test what frequencies you can hear and learn about the sound equivalent of optical illusions. If you’re unfamiliar with the Exploratorium, its a huge science museum in San Francisco and they have a great website full of experiments and activities you can do at home. They also have an app on color/light, Color Uncovered which is worth checking out.
Brainpop is probably the most used educational app in our house since my youngest, now 12, was watching 3 or 4 videos every night before bed for a few YEARS and I use the videos in my science class frequently. You can access some of the videos for free, on the app and on the website, but its well worth having the subscription, typically $99 a year, to have full access. When I used to sit at my computer and preview the videos for class, my kids would hear Moby (robot character) beeping and come running to watch the video over my shoulder. They have a site for younger kids called Brainpop Jr. but I don’t have much experience with that.
World of Goo is a great game where the kids will learn some physics and engineering without realizing its educational. Crazy Machines is another great app but it looks like the first version has disappeared, I only see Crazy Machines 2 on the app store and my son told me that it wasn’t quite as good. We used to have Crazy Machines for our desktop computer the kids would play that for hours. Usually there is a puzzle to solve… trying to get a ball into a basket by building a Rube-Goldberg type machine, or you can just build your own contraption.
We have a lot of astronomy apps. I usually go to Planets first if I’m trying to figure out what planets are visible. It can use the gps in your ipad/phone so you can hold up you iPad to the sky and its shows you a labeled picture of the sky. But it also has a screen with a table showing each planet and when they will be visible that day, which I find very useful. Star Walk 2 is another astronomy app that you can hold up to the sky and see the constellations etc.
Simple Physics is an app that the kids played a lot but I haven’t messed around with it. You have to build projects, but the trick is that you have to do it within your budget – so you have to build simply and not over complicate matters. The game also allows you to see the stress in your structure so you can fix your design.
NOVA Elements is another good app (and FREE) for exploring the elements and actually building atoms. With a finger tap for each proton, neutron and electron you can build any atom on the periodic table. The kids in chemistry had a lot of fun with this one.
We use a lot of other educational apps but these are first ones to come to mind for science. I’l talk about the other apps in my next post.