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We can’t discuss the best apps for education and not cover the best apps for science. Science apps can encourage your child to explore a scientific topic they might not have considered. Or they might help your child learn and see something they’d miss. Astronomy and dissection apps are a great way to give kids an inside look they might miss by not having an app. You’ll find apps for all ages below. So, before you consider apps for science a waste of time, consider what topics an app can show that your child might miss otherwise.
Before we get started, let me share one thought with you . . . I’m a believer in apps for all devices. I love nothing more than to see a developer make their app available for as many platforms as possible.
Why? Because it’s a real bummer to hear about an awesome app only to find out it’s exclusive for XXX users. Seriously. It just is. And it doesn’t have to be that way. While it is up to the developer to limit the app to certain devices, I appreciate those who don’t. So, I prefer to share apps from developers who make their apps available to a wider audience.
And now, on with the show list . . .
Best Apps for Science
#1 3D BRAIN
Recommended Ages: 9 & up
Discover how your brain functions with this informative interactive app that allows you to use your touch screen to zoom and rotate around the various brain structures. Each structure is highlighted in a different color, allowing users to easily distinguish between them. Users can view a great deal of information on each structure, including its functions, related disorders, case studies, how the structure is affected by brain damage, and links to related research. Additionally, users can learn about the brain as a whole, as well as what happens when the brain is injured and how mental illness affects each part of the brain.
#2 Thinkrolls 2
Recommended Ages: 3-9
Thinkrolls 2 is a clever game of logic that keeps kids on their toes. Players navigate through 235 levels of increasingly complex mazes. Along the way they’ll meet 28 spunky characters and use properties of matter and basic physics to make their Thinkrolls roll, float, glide, and teleport through a series of themed chapters. Each chapter gradually introduces a new scientific concept in a way that’s kid friendly and easy to understand. Thinkrolls 2 is COPPA compliant.
There are no 3rd party ads and no in-app billing.
- Editor’s Choice by Children’s Technology Review (A+)
#3 DNA Play
Recommended Ages: 4-9
Play is a great way to introduce our kids to new concepts. DNA Play does just that by introducing kids to the basic concept of DNA in an easy pure-play style. Kids learn how to build creatures by completing a series of simple DNA puzzles. They can get creative and experiment with crazy mutations of different body parts by altering genes. Their monster creations change form in real-time. So they can see the changes while their monsters dance, skate, eat, or sleep! What’s especially nice about DNA Play is the Parents’ section. Here parents can find basic info on DNA, illustrated tutorials, interaction hints, and play ideas. Information is provided so parents can extend learning beyond the app. Let your kids play with monsters and know they really are learning science with one of the best apps for science!
There are no in-app purchases or 3rd party ads.
- The Guardian – Featured in “Apps of the Month”
- Apple App Store Best of 2015 in US
#4 Toca Lab
Recommended Ages: 6-8
Curious kids meet all 118 of the elements from the periodic table as they explore the colorful and electrifying world of science. Discover elements by experimenting with the lab tools! Toca Lab is a place for playing and having fun. They hope to inspire kids to explore science. The periodic table in Toca Lab is accurate; the way new elements are created is not. Instead, it’s a fun way for young curious scientists to experiment and discover.
There are no 3rd party ads or in-app purchases.
#5 Solar Walk
Recommended Ages: 8 and up
Solar Walk is a 3D solar system model that allows you to navigate between planets, see their positions on a specific date, and explore how they move and why. Zoom in to study planets and satellites close up. You’ll find extensive information on every planet including its size, mass, orbital velocity, exploratory missions, thickness of structural layers, and composition of atmosphere. There are in-app purchases, which normally I’m not a fan of, but the in-app purchases here are to add additional features and enhancements to Solar Walk.
- National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) – GOLD winner in the Educational Tools for Parents and Children category
- Parents’ Choice Gold Award Winner
Recommended Ages: 2-8
Inventioneers is an amazing app which teaches kids about realtime physics. This interactive game lets kids create their own crazy, fun inventions! They can even share their inventions with up to 4 of their friends, too. You first download the free version which has 14 inventions for kids to solve. They can also create inventions of their own. You then have the option to purchase the full version which offers 98 inventions.
There are no recurring in-app purchase options with the full version!
- Winner of Parents’ Choice Gold Award
Recommended Ages: 7 & up
This is the official NASA app. It’s not often that you’ll find a free app that offers so much! Your kids (and you) could spend a lifetime on this app and not get bored. It’s packed with information on the U.S. space program and astronomy. And new information is added daily from a variety of NASA sources, including NASA’s public television channel. You won’t find ads or in-app purchases. But social sharing via Facebook and Twitter is an option. It makes it easy to share cool NASA facts. But, parents who don’t want this option should be aware so they can discuss family social media guidelines with their kids.
#8 My Incredible Body
Recommended Ages: 9-11
Children and adults will have fun learning all the pieces and parts of human anatomy with medically accurate 3D models and animations of anatomical structures. Learn the locations of body parts and how they function as you zoom inside the skeleton, muscles, organs, nerves, and blood vessels. Take rocket rides through the human body to experience how blood flows, what lungs look like when breathing, and how the body does its swallowing and digesting. Watch short movies that show you how your brain works, how your muscles work together, and how your heart functions!
Note: An in-app purchase gives you the option to purchase a bank of quizzes to test your kids (or yourself) on what they’ve learned. The Reproductive System is also an in-app purchase. It shows basic male and female anatomy and introduces the concepts of puberty and human reproduction at just the appropriate level.
- Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Award
- Best App for Teaching & Learning-The American Association of School Librarians
Recommended Ages: 13-21
Do you dream of having your own chemistry lab? One you don’t need to clean afterwards? That’s just what you get with Chemist! With Chemist you get your own virtual chemistry lab. Experiment with various lab equipment, procedures, and over 200 chemical reagents all with complete freedom. You’ll never have to buy chemicals or clean up afterwards. This is a must have app for high school and college age students.
- Best Science-based App – MacWorld
Recommended Ages: 13-21
BEAKER turns your device into a virtual lab to experiment with 150+ chemicals. Your device IS the beaker. You can hold it, shake it, heat it up, cap it, add in chemicals, pour out, or pour between BEAKERs via AirMix. This app is creatively beautiful and fun all while being 100% educational.
- The Best of 2015-Apple
#11 Sky View
Recommended Ages: 7 & up
Learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the stars with this amazing app. Simply point your device at the sky and Sky View will identify the stars, planets, satellites, and constellations above you. Using your device’s camera, this wonderful app spots and identifies celestial objects in the sky – day or night! This amazing science app includes a ton of wonderful educational features, including:
- Simple: Point your device at the sky to instantly identify constellations, planets, and satellites above you at that moment.
- Night Mode: Use night vision to easily identify more celestial objects in the night sky at your location.
- Augmented Reality: Travel through the galaxy using your device’s camera to identify and learn about a variety of celestial objects.
- Sky Paths: Follow an object’s track in the sky to see its location on any date and time.
- Time Travel: Travel through time to see how the sky looked on different dates throughout history.
- Google Editor’s Choice 2017
- App Zone Best Android App 2014
#12 MarcoPolo Weather
Recommended Ages: 4 to 8
Explore a variety of weather phenomenon with the touch of a button with this fun app aimed at making learning fun. Using free play and exploration, users are able to manipulate temperature and wind conditions to create their own weather scenes. Kids can choose from nine variables (sunny, partly cloudy, cloudy, rain, thunderstorm, snow, blizzard, tornado, and hurricane) to create their own weather patterns. Each condition includes a narrated description and gives children a chance to see how that type of weather affects their avatar. Interactive games give the user a chance to learn more about different types of weather and how it affects the world around them. Whether they choose to melt an igloo, plant a flower, or dress their avatar for the weather, your kids will have fun while learning through self-directed discovery.
- Parents’ Choice GOLD Award
- App Store Best of 2014
Recommended Age Range: 8 & up
Do your kids wonder what the earth looked like when dinosaurs roamed the land? They can find out with this interesting app that allows users to travel through time exploring the earth’s vast history. Each 3D image on the app is backed by scientific research from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Whether your kids are interested in finding out what your hometown looked like millions of years ago or would prefer to travel around the world through time, they’ll enjoy seeing the continents shift, temperature changes, and atmospheric composition differences across the centuries. This interactive app includes a variety of notable features, such as:
- Continental reconstructions dating back millions of years
- Sea-level maps for the past 21,000 years
- Global temperature maps for the past century
- Modern cities tracked back 500 million years
- Ability to easily manipulate the globe and zoom into various locations
What are some of your family’s favorite apps for science?