I am starting to buy into this idea of teaching and really connecting material through games and apps. I was sort of on board with this concept, but since playing around with The Elements (a Harry Potter version of the Periodic Table) that my brother-in-law turned me on to, I am now a believer as I saw, with my own eyes, how captivated my kids were with the Periodic Table, an otherwise dull chart. Since my recollection of Organic Chemistry is quite scant, I really appreciate how I don’t actually have to do much except show my kids where the content is located to get them to read up on the elements.
The apps for virtually dissecting a frog or a rat are also revelations in terms of taking something that usually gets reserved for high school and college students and suddenly making it accessible (and fun!) for preschoolers is the power of the iPad apps.
What are your favorite science apps for your kids? Please share!
p.s. My 7-year-old has been playing with Coaster Physics where you design your own roller coaster and take a virtual ride. It also demonstrates physics principles of potential and kinetic energy and G-forces. I was quite surprised to see how easy it was for him to use (I had a much harder time using it), and how much fun it is.
This is from my Mom Friend Gwen: Couldn’t get on your website to post this but thought I’d share a couple of science apps worth looking at. Where’s my water? by Disney and Crazy machines- both great for the iPad.
Best Apps with Science Concepts for Kids
Where’s My Water?
The game stars Swampy the Aligator who just wants to take a shower, but the pipes are broken! $.99
The aim of Crazy Machines is to build crazy contraptions to complete the tasks set forth by the wacky Professor. Give free rein to your imagination and unleash the most incredible of chain reactions! You can, for example, have a billiard ball drop onto a lamp switch and turn it on. $1.99. Crazy Machines 2, $2.99.
Real Mom of NJ says, “For the little littles, try Toca Doctor. It’s very cute and introduces a little anatomy and medical care. My 3-year-old LOVES it.”
Let your kids be a doctor for a day! Examine a patient and solve fun puzzles and mini-games that take place in the human body. Beautiful artwork and fun sounds guides your kids through 21 different puzzles!
The Elements is both a book and an iPad app. My brother-in-law told me about it saying that it’s the Harry Potter of Periodic Tables. I didn’t realize that it was $14 but after purchasing it, I do actually think it’s worth it! The only downside is that it’s a huge app at 1.7 GB. My little boy and I played on it for a long time, identifying gold and silver. My recollection of Organic Chemistry these days is limited to NaCl (salt) and H2o (water) so we both just marvel at the spinning and mesmerizing solid elements. If you click further into each element, there is a great page of truly fascinating information for each one. My oldest child who would not otherwise be interested in the Periodic Table of Elements raved about this app and had to be sent off to bed still protesting that she wanted to explore it further. Good stuff for girls!!
These are the books:
The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe by Theodore W. Gray
The Photographic Card Deck of The Elements: With Big Beautiful Photographs of All 118 Elements in the Periodic Table by Theodore Gray
Weird but True
My kids love their magazine subscription to National Geographic Kids and there is a feature in the magazine called Weird But True: Check Out These Outrageous Facts. Things like: the sound of waves crashing come mostly from air bubbles, apples float but pears sink, and an earthquake in Chile shortened the length of an earth day by 1.26 microseconds.
Now this page has become an iPhone/iPad app. And it continues to fascinate kids. All my kids love this app and there is a very long list of Weird But True Facts by different topics so it’s very tough to run out of Weird But True facts. My kids also enjoy the gizmo to rate each fact. The best thing about this app is that it’s a sneaky way to get kids reading. It’s just $1.99.
Virtual Frog Dissection
I have talked extensively about my great love for this app which, while designed for high school and college students, works wonderfully for kids as young as preschoolers. I recommend the iPad version over the iPhone. You really need the larger screen. The iPhone version also does not have the great non-fiction pages comparing human to frog anatomy plus all the great pages on frogs (Classification, Appearance, Eating and Living, Special Senses, Life Cycle, Digestive System, Organs, EcoSystem, Frogs and Toads: A Comparison). At $3.99, the non-fiction pages alone are worth the price of the app! Also, having your child dissect a frog without the mess and smell … priceless!
Virtual Rat Dissection
The folks that created Virtual Frog Dissection have a rat version. I hate rodents so this iPad/iPhone app makes me squeamish, but this is not to say that your child who loves to dissect a frog won’t also love to go at a rat! It’s also $3.99. Again, I’d opt for the iPad version to get the great science-y non-fiction pages and to really have the room to do the actual dissection. Just looking at this rat, though, is creeping me out.
Cell and Cell Structure
The same company that made Virtual Frog Dissection and Virtual Rat Dissection just came out with Cell and Cell Structure. I would put this app more in the “Like a Tutor” category versus “Really Fun.” It has new age-y music but is chock full of information that seems to span both middle school and high school biology. I would use this app for kids who like science and let them play around with this. Alternately, I’d use it for review if my child is studying for a biology cell test and needs something more riveting to review and remember all the technical terms. $1.99
And here’s a fun science project to go with parts of the cell using cake and candy. My daughter did this for 7th grade science but I found a link here that details what she did.
I thought this was a fascinating concept. The user gets to design and test their own roller coaster. Along the way, you can see things like speed versus acceleration, G-forces, and the physics of kinetic energy. This would be very fun for a child who likes hands-on experimentation, particularly after visiting a 6 Flags theme park and thinks he or she can create a better roller coaster. This would be great for homeschool too! I tried to create a roller coaster but I keep inadvertently sending part of mine underground which makes it tough to get acceleration or G-forces. Ah well, I was never that good at physics. My little boy, on the other hand, would love this! His roller coasters might actually work! The graphics are surprisingly easy to use to design and “ride” the roller coaster. It’s actually a pretty amazing app for just $0.99.
I’d use it for iPad though it’s also available on iPhone. You need the bigger screen to really manipulate the basic roller coaster into one of your dreams since you are using your finger to move it around. My 7-year-old son is having a blast using this to design roller coasters and now understands how Potential Energy converts to Kinetic Energy which makes me happy. His roller coaster design has also improved and now the car doesn’t have to go through metal poles or underground. This is a really well-done app!
Using nothing but LEGO components, the team at Brickride builds supercool rollercoasters.
This is a time-lapse video of how they made the roller coaster.
ILive Grammar Botany
You get a 2 for 1 deal with this app in terms of getting an iPhone/iPad app created for grammar with botany as the content. It’s sneaky science. It’s $4.99.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.