Smartphones and tablets make for an ideal educational tools, and app makers are taking advantage of the power of those mobile devices to create interactive showcases, educational ebooks and even apps for citizen scientists to help in the search for knowledge. Check out 20 of the best science apps for Android and iOS devices.
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.
WWF Free Rivers is a neat educational tool that shows the powerful impact river systems have on nature and human civilization and how we can damage or preserve these vital natural systems. The app takes advantage of iOS's ARKit technology to render different river systems, such as those in the African savannas, Himalayan mountains or the river deltas of Southeast Asia. Animated, interactive models show how rivers feed and nourish the environment, and how people in turn can affect the river's flow and health. It's an interesting showcase for how AR tech can educate, as well as entertain.
Google's Science Journal (Android, iOS) app turns your smartphone into a portable research station, taking advantage of your phone's sensors to record things like sound levels, light levels, and motion. The Science Journal app combines with a series of activities and experiments designed by the Exploratorium that are designed to show kids ages 10+ the basics of the scientific method, as well as basic principles of physics.
Based on National Geographic's book of the same name, the Ultimate Dinopedia is a lavishly illustrated reference guide to more than 700 discovered dinosaur species. Every entry includes 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, such as hatchings, migrations and the mystery of their extinction. This is the perfect gift for a budding paleontologist, or anyone whose inner child is fascinated with these extinct creatures.
Kindergarten may seem like it's way too early to teach math and even basic algebra, but DragonBox Algebra 5+ (Android, iOS) is a genuinely clever educational game that skillfully hides the fact that it's teaching your kids algebra. Targeted at kids ages 5 and up, DragonBox Algebra starts out with simple logic puzzles that have kids matching symbols together in order to clear one side of the screen. Each new puzzle adds new quirks and game rules that cleverly mirror the basic rules of elementary algebra. In no time at all, your kids are unknowingly balancing the sides of an algebraic equation to isolate a treasure box symbol, gradually replaced with 'X'. The game features 10 chapters with 200 puzzles in total, and covers addition, division and multiplication.
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.
Curiosity (Android, iOS) delivers short but info-rich articles, videos and podcasts on a variety of topics from nature to neuroscience, all designed to entertain and enrich your mind. You can check out the daily feed of featured content, as well as dedicated channels that you can subscribe to, with the app learning from your saved articles and subscribed channels to help find content that you'd be interested in. It's a great way to expand your brain in short, 5-minute snippets.