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Captivate Student Curiosity With STEM Apps

With over 200,000 applications available for Apple’s iPad and thousands more for Android devices, educators and students must sift through a lot of apps to find effective learning tools. An app is software that allows users to perform specific tasks on a mobile device.

Apps have been created on every subject imaginable, including science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Some are created by mainstream publishing companies such as McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, while others are created by start-ups or by students. The touchscreens on tablets and certain smartphones allow students to interact with content and engage in multimodal learning. According to research sponsored by PC maker Lenovo in Dec. 2011, students 12 to 17 years old use an average of 14 apps regularly. Allowing students to use tablets and smartphones in the classroom enables them to learn the same way they live. The options are endless, but here are a few to consider in your district.

Sail Through Math sail through math
McGraw-Hill School Education Group, $1.99 per device
Kids will love practicing math on this pirate-themed app. Students navigate around obstacles to learn about math facts, algebra, number sense and rational numbers. Each topic includes multiple levels and opportunities to improve skills for students in grades 3 through 8. Kids can share their achievements on Facebook and Twitter. Available for Apple devices only.

Khan Academy
The Khan Academy app for iPad brings to the user more than 2,700 videos on a range of topics, including math, science and the humanities. The app features downloadable videos that you can watch offline, subtitles, and the ability to track your progress. Practice exercises will be available soon. Available for the iPad only.

Sushi Monster sushi monster
Scholastic, free
Created to meet Common Core State Standards for math fluency, Sushi Monster gives students a fun way to practice their math facts. There are seven addition and five multiplication levels for kids to master, and each helps students build reasoning strategies. Available for the iPad only.

ST Math featuring touch mind
MIND Research Institute, pricing varies
Access to this Web-based math program that accentuates spatial-temporal reasoning is possible on almost any mobile device. ST Math featuring touch is language free, meets the Common Core State Standards, and increases cognitive demands through visual manipulatives that promote problem solving. This research-based program was developed by the nonprofit MIND Research Institute. In addition to Apple and Android mobile devices, it’s also available for computers.

Fuse Algebra 1: Common Core Edition fuse
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $59.99
Access the full algebra 1 curriculum with this mobile platform. Fuse allows teachers to personalize learning through guided instructional videos and formative assessments. This edition is aligned to Common Core State Standards. Fuse is also available for algebra 2 and geometry. Available on the iPad only.

Journey North journey north
Annenberg Learner, free
Document seasonal change and wildlife migration with Journey North. Students can share field observations with classmates anywhere in North America and track the coming of spring through the budding of plants, the migration of birds and mammals, and the changing sunlight. Created by a branch of the Annenberg Foundation, this app is considered the premiere “citizen science” project for kids. Available for Apple devices only.

3D Brain brain
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, free
Interact with 29 structures of the brain with the 3D Brain app. Students can find out how each region of the brain functions, what happens when the brain is injured, and what role the brain plays in mental illness. Each structure responds to touch and includes information on functions, case studies and links to modern research. Available for Apple and Android devices.

Graphing Calculatorgraphing calculator
Appcylon, $1.99 per device
Turn your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch into an intuitive function plotter and scientific calculator with the Graphing Calculator app. Capabilities include plotting and tracing multiple equations on the same graph, evaluating graphs at any x value, and taking screen shots or emailing graphs. Teachers can use this app to display graphs on a TV or projector. Available for Apple devices only.