Smartphones and tablets make for an ideal educational tool, and app developers are taking advantage of the power of our smartphones and laptops to create interactive showcases, educational ebooks and even apps for citizen scientists to help in the search for knowledge. Check out 15 of the best science apps for Android and iOS below.
The Elements (iOS) ($13.99)
Based on Theodore Gray's The Elements, the app by the same title is a lavishly illustrated romp through the periodic table of elements. Starting off with an illustrated periodic table, users can tap on each element to see an object composed of it, such as a crystal, toy or sculpture. The app also reveals vital facts about the element, including how humans have used that substance throughout history. Lavish illustrations, fun facts and the latest information from Wolfram Alpha are combined into a richly interactive app that more than justifies its steep asking price.
Product of a successful educational game Kickstarter, ChemCaper Act 1: Petticles in Peril (Android, iOS) bills itself as a "Chemistry Role Playing Game", with gameplay, creatures, and environments based on Chemistry concepts. Players take on the role of Roub Idyum, a pampered young Moon Being thrust into danger when the previously friendly Petticles go wild. As you explore the world and its mysteries, you can tame and combine Petticles as well as craft potions with lab equipment using principles of chemistry such as the various chemical bonds and elemental properties. It's an interesting combination of education and actual challenging gameplay, and we're interested in seeing how the rest of the story goes.
Ultimate Dinopedia (iOS) ($4.99)
Based on National Geographic's book of the same name, the Ultimate Dinopedia is a lavishly illustrated reference to more than 700 discovered dinosaur species. Every entry features art depicting each dinosaur, as well as a rich collection of stories, facts, size comparisons and other neat information. Other features take a look at the lost world of the dinosaurs, featuring hatchings, migrations and the mystery of their extinction. This is the perfect gift for a budding paleontologist, or any one whose inner child is fascinated with these ancient creatures.
BrainPOP is an educational media stalwart with a wealth of animated videos aimed at K-12 students, and now, BrainPOP's mobile app (Android, iOS) brings these videos right to your kid's smartphone or tablet. The Featured Movie app brings a small library of free videos as well as a daily featured movie and quiz, while subscription options increase the number of videos you can view or unlocks the full BrainPOP mobile library of educational videos and quizzes.
Elementary school arithmetic would probably be more amusing if you know you were going to use that knowledge to avenge the Earth. Calculords is an interesting fusion of lane defense, deck building, but most importantly, basic arithmetic skills. You add, subtract and multiply numbers in order to play your troop cards to destroy the enemy base. Each victory earns you new cards and numbers to customize your deck. It also brings you that much closer to tracking down the dreaded Hate Bit as you seek revenge for Earth's destruction. Do you have what it takes to become the galaxy's greatest Star Nerd?
More than just a Google Map clone, Earthviewer allows users to explore the Earth's geological past, present and future. Users can explore interactive maps of the movements of the Earth's continents across millions of years, as well as temperature maps of the past century. Users can locate modern cities and landmarks and trace their positions across eons of continental drift, or even their expected future positions. In-depth features explain more about major events and eras in our planet's history, with clickable details for more information. Designed for tablets, this app is a great resource for classrooms.
Brian Cox's Wonders of Life (iOS) ($4.99)
Explore the amazing world of our planet's biodiversity with Brian Cox's Wonders of Life. The interactive multimedia app allows users to explore more than 30 different creatures and habitats through a variety of articles, more than a thousand hi-res photographs and more than 2 hours of HD video. It's a wonderful tour of the richness of the Earth's ecosystem.
WWF Together (iOS) (Free)
The World Wildlife Fund has been a long-time stalwart in the wildlife conservation movement, and their WWF Together app is a stunning audio-visual presentation on the many species that the WWF is working to protect. Packed with impressive photographs and videos as well as a wide variety of facts and short writeups on many endangered species, WWF Together examines how human activity and climate change are affecting some of the planet's iconic species.
Complete Anatomy (iOS) (Free, $49.99 full version unlock)
3D4Medical's Complete Anatomy app is a fantastic mobile resource for medical students, teachers, and doctors, delivering impressive 3D renderings of the human body and its various systems, complete with detailed information, exploded views, notes, tools, and search functions. a simple gesture control system makes it a snap to navigate the 3D human body, and users can tap on individual body parts for greater information. A layer mode allows you to easily zero in on the systems you want to explore. Cloud-based features allow you to save and share notes and other work. The free demo allows you to explore the skeletal system and connective tissues, while upgrading to the full version unlocks the whole package.
Take augmented reality to the heavens with Star Walk, an AR app that takes advantage of your device's sensors and location data to present you with an augmented view of the heavens. All you need to do is point your device skyward, and Star Walk will display a matching view of constellations, planets and other celestial bodies that you can view, updated in real time. Users can tap on planets and other notable objects to view more details or check out the Time Machine feature to view the starscape at a past or future date. A Night Mode allows you to to stargaze without burning out your night vision. It's a great app to have along on a clear night or when out camping.
Redshift - Astronomy (iOS) ($9.99)
For something a bit more high-powered, check out Redshift - Astronomy, which turns your iOS device into a mobile planetarium. Much like Star Walk, you can use the app as a mobile star map, pointing the app to the sky to illustrate constellations and celestial objects. In addition, Red Shift can take you on a 3D flight around the Solar System, exploring planets and moons, including some of the latest data on Pluto and Charon from the New Horizons mission. In addition, the app contains a rich database of more than 100,000 stars and 70,000 deep sky objects, as well as dwarf planets, comets and asteroids.
The official NASA app keeps you up to date on the latest space news, features, and images from America's space exploration agency. Users can read up on the latest NASA missions, watch video on demand mini docus and stream NASA TV, check out a schedule of the latest launches and countdown clocks, and view a variety of fantastic phots such as the Earth As Art collections. Users can save videos and photos into their favorites for later viewing or to their device for use as wallpapers.
Skeptical Science is a quick guide to debunking climate change denial, listing and refuting the most commonly used arguments used to undermine climate change science. The app presents a top 10 list of arguments, searchable categories and a news feed. It's a great and informative resource for taking the fight against climate change to the streets.
Wolfram Alpha is more than just a search engine. The app's computational knowledge is a wizard when it comes to answering questions about a variety of fields of knowledge, from mathematics, statistics, physics and earth sciences. If you're looking for the answer to a question covered under the hard sciences, Wolfram Alpha is a fantastic tool for finding the right answer and learning more about the field.
The motto of the TED conferences is "Ideas worth spreading," and the official TED apps makes it easy to do just that. With this little app, you can download and view more than a thousand TEDTalk videos featuring some of the best and brightest talking about ideas they believe matter. Covering everything from the hard and soft sciences, sociology, art, culture, economics and more, the TED app is a great introduction to big ideas that can shape our world today and tomorrow.