Are secondary school kids ready to study university-level STEM subjects when they graduate? With STEM skills increasingly becoming a requirement amongst certain employers, this question is preoccupying both teachers and parents – with many schools wanting kids to have “as much advance training in those areas as possible”.
Our research has found that use of tablets in the classroom engage kids across the full range of curriculum subjects? But do teachers how to get kids ready for university programs such as computer science or engineering? We’ve written before about apps and resources for specific subjects such as maths and science, and now we bring you five more apps that students can use to sharpen a range of other STEM skills. They are all so interactive that we guarantee you won’t be able to keep students away from them – even on weekends or a summer day!
1. The NASA App
If the official NASA app doesn’t get kids interested in astronomy, then nothing will. It not only features information and updates on the space program, but astronomy in general. As you can see below, the stunning visual images are enough to attract kids and make them want to explore the other content as well. NASA adds information daily (including photos, tweets and videos), including from the NASA TV channel. Social sharing features strongly – kids can easily share any information they find through either Facebook or the built-in Twitter client.
— Chris (@ChristophLoewen) July 6, 2014
Price: Free on the App Store.
According to Tinkerbox, “if you can imagine it” then Tinkerbox enables you to build it. This engaging physics game features numerous interesting science facts, and also focuses on basic engineering concepts. Probably the best thing about the app is that it fits many different learning styles. There are various modes, such as “puzzle mode” or “invent mode” (which enhances general creativity and imagination skills). With invent mode, students can build machines, share them on social media, or download existing inventions for inspiration.
3. Wolfram Alpha
Ever wished for a search engine devoted to computation? Wolfram Alpha bills itself as the “world’s definitive source” for instant computation (parts of it are used in Siri). You could this knowledge engine a “super-calculator” – enabling students to not only quickly look up answers to a variety of calculations across all the STEM subjects, but generate reports as well. There are thousands of domains, including maths, statistics, data analysis, chemistry, engineering, astronomy, life sciences, and computational sciences. The time saved on calculations leaves students more time to understand the subject itself in detail.
— Nancy Ward-Patterson (@teaches4fun) January 29, 2014
4. Exploriments: Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation
Price: £1.49 (App Store).
Why not learn Newton’s Law of Gravitation through a series of fun, interactive, activities with this “Exploriments” app? In addition to helping them understand the equation for the law of gravitation, kids can consolidate their learning through engaging activities such as manipulating planets and then observing the change in gravitational force, or putting a satellite into space to gain an understanding of orbits. The “explorations” enable kids to have fun and learn concepts at the same time. Sharing is encouraged – students can post their thoughts and answers straight to a number of social media accounts. Take a look at the other Exploriments simulation-based apps at www.exploriments.com.
5. Bobo Explores Light
Price: £2.99 (App Store).
This app for kids aged 4-12 is billed as a “fully functional science museum”. Science is already exciting for most children, and this humourous and visually stunning app will make it even more engaging. The essential scientific concepts are presented in-depth and interactively (including through holograms) with Bobo the robot as the guide through topics such as lasers and bioluminescence. The app also features hands-on experiments and explanatory videos and articles.