Science apps are technology’s answer to a teacher’s “turn to page 312” and it can be used beyond the classroom as well as in a classroom environment. Not only are apps fast and easy to use, but they provide a level of interactivity textbooks inherently don’t possess, which makes them an outstanding tool for learning. And while science learning is associated with formal education, apps can turn any curious individual into a scientist.
See the Skies
With the official NASA app, astronomy is simplified for enthusiasts and everyday interests alike. A huge collection of NASA content is available through the app, including images, videos, mission information, news, ISS sighting opportunities, satellite tracking and many more. Available for Android, iPhone and most tablets, this app gives users access to NASA TV and Third Rock Radio and can give clear photos of the skies no matter the time of day.
For those wondering what constellation they’re looking at, the Pocket Universe: Virtual Sky Astronomy app is a good acquisition and works by simply pointing an iPhone or iPad at the sky. The options are endless: you can see the sky’s bright or dim stars, in alternation, adjust the brightness of your screen according to where you are (a city has much more light pollution than, say, a remote village) and you can browse a catalog of deep sky objects complete with pictures of star clusters, nebulae and galaxies.
Though it’s probably never been anyone’s intention, it’s easy for us earthlings to take the wonders of life for granted. Luckily, with the aid of science apps, we can rediscover the wonders of life on Earth. What’s Invasive is a free app that works both on Android and iPhone and allows those interested to contribute to scientific research by collecting data about invasive species found anywhere and collected by any legitimate means. By accessing a list of such species, users can provide GPS coordinates, photos and notes with which scientists can then choose to use in the research of the infestation of habitat-destroying species.
For those who are interested in physiology or the internal function of living creatures, the Frog Dissection app is a good way of getting your first look at how the internal system of a living creature is structured without the actual dead frog, which can be an avoidance factor for many people. If you want to take your research even further, Muscle System Pro II is the app for you. This innovative application from NOVA takes you on a complex journey through the human muscular system, with which you can interact easily.
Know the World
If a thirst for knowledge is close to your heart, there are many apps that can give you a dose of global science and history. The Amazing Science Facts app is just what it claims to be, a collection of scientific facts that’s often updated to keep its users interested. The Elements: A Visual Exploration takes the (maybe) boring periodic table and transforms it into an interactive, visual playground with 3D representation and lots of fascinating information about each element.
For the anthropologist in each of us, the Kinsey Reporter app is a very interesting addition to any smartphone or tablet. Alfred Kinsey, many might now, was a famous sexologist of the 1950’s. His contribution to science, the Kinsey Reports and scale, shed light on a taboo subject that was rarely discussed openly and disputed scientifically before the time. With this in mind, the Kinsey Reporter app collects data about sexuality by letting users anonymously submit their sexual activity that happened within the last 24 hours. The fact that one can also access the statistics on the map makes participation even more engaging.
Many science apps are going beyond the simple and accessible and are taking a stand to create complex apps that can actually give something to the world of science or offer more than just facts but experiences to users. This takes science from the labs and research centers to our daily existence, making it a little bit more accessible and approachable.
Just like popular science books (Stephen Hawking’s The Universe in a Nutshell is probably the most famous such book), science apps can fill the gap between the normal person and their place in the Universe. This is a bond that’s unbreakable, but people often forget about the wonders of existence and need a little app reminder.
Vera M. Reed is a former educator and current blogger who thoroughly enjoys writing on any topic dealing with education. She particularly enjoyed writing this blog and hopes readers find it fun and will discover some great new apps with it! Vera frequently contributes material to Accredited Online, a fantastic resource for anyone seeking to further their education.