Day 357. Snappy science apps

In August 2013 on August 3, 2013 at 1:32 pm


It’s a wet and windy winter weekend in Adelaide, and I’m wondering what on Earth to do with my kids over the next 48 hours.

Luckily, teacher and science communicator Kirsti Abbott sent in some brilliant new entertainment options in the the following guest post entitled Snappy science apps:

Like me, you might have of those families whose members fight over the iPad.

    • Whose turn it is;
    • The angle it’s held at;
    • Whether there is an equivalent distance between each kid and the screen;
    • …and more.

We’re also told over and over again by the mainstream media that our kids are having way too much screen time.

It’s enough to make a parent lock up the electronic devices for good.

But why we don’t just relax a little and explore how these tools can bring a sense of joy and wonder into our lives? Tablets offer unique pathways for learning that our grandparents and even parents could only dream of.

As an example, perhaps they could provide opportunities for science to be part of our everyday life in interactive and technological ways? In ways that would not require parents to dig out every quantitative instrument in the house, or end up with piles of clothes caked in mud and other sticky stuff from experimental activity.

In our family we bring science into games on the iPad wherever we can.

Angry Birds teaches us about trajectories.

Where’s My Water raises issues about water distribution, delivery and wastage.

Juice Box and Move It! teach spatial awareness and connectivity.

There’s a fabulous new climate change app that provides projections, impacts and adaptation options for coastal Australia: check out CERCCS.  ClimateWatch is also a good one to grab, and Skeptical Science encourages you to know thy climate change science.

I’ve also uncovered recently an insane number of citizen science apps. Albeit based mainly in North America (both US and Canada), they are interactive and allow actual input into the scientific process.

I desperately want REDMAP to create an app (there is one in development right now! – Sarah), but the Atlas of Living Australia has OzAtlas that does suffice for many of the creatures we come across. I love being able to feel like David Attenborough in Australia.

There are also plentiful museum apps, as well as field guides, glossaries and atlases.

My recommendation? Hide the dress up, drawing and Disney apps for a while, and use your iPad to explore science. With or even without any kids.

With problem solving and strategic games high on our agenda, here are a few more apps that we enjoy and you might like to check out:

    • Field Guide to Victorian Fauna – gorgeous photos, accurate explanations and SOUND!
    • Oh No Fractions! – Oh yes. It makes maths fun.
    • WWF Together  – Designer quality images & layout, accurate information and connection with WWF.
    • Go Sky Watch – Point your iPad at something in the sky and it will tell you what it is. Yay.
    • NASA – seriously awesome space stuff.
    • 3D Brain – learn what amygdala and cerebellum really mean. Great 3D graphics of our brains.
    • iSeismometer – record the movements of your device on the richter scale. If you have it in your pocket and in an earthquake, put it on the ground! Or run for it…..

A ScienceforLife.365 guest post by Kristi Abbott.

Kirsti is an invasion ecologist and ant lover. She is passionate about teaching and communicating  science, and proudly enjoys science in her and her family’s everyday. Having just left Monash University where she was a lecturer for 6 years, Kirsti is now attempting to inspire first year biology students at the University of New England. You can find Kirsti on twitter as @BeyondBuggirl

[image thanks to panina.anna on flickr]

  1. […] you might turn to YouTube, iView, SBS On Demand, and other channels that float your boat, or source apps that both entertain and […]

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