Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Apps That Teach! (And Might Be Fun Too..)

I get asked a lot what are my favorite apps. And I usually can rattle off a few. Evernote, Twitter, Wunderlist to name a few. But what about apps that actually teach? What about apps that kids (or you) can use to learn?

I have a few teachers in my district working on a 1:1 tablet project and we are going to be introducing some apps in a few weeks that are fun but have a purpose. Many of these are STEM apps (as STEM is a big focus for us this year) but they could be used in lots of places.

Angry Birds: (iOS, Android) Yep. You read that right. Angry Birds. While totally addictive and fun to play, there is loads of learning potential. Physics, angles and more. We could stretch it and do estimation (How many birds will this take me), evolution and how different characteristics of the birds affect game play. Even writing. (Here is a great series of physics questions to answer using Angry Birds, no tablet or phone needed.)

Plants vs. Zombies (iOS, Android) Another fun and addictive game, Plants vs. Zombies is great for the science classroom, mainly looking at adaptations and evolutionary concepts. But there is some math with estimations and predictions. Even conversations around habitats. See, Zombies can be fun!

Plague Inc (iOS) Epidemic (Android) Wanna destroy humankind? Can you create superbug that will end civilization as we know it? Of course you can't for real (unless you are a Mad Scientist or something) but in Plague and Epidemic that is precisely what you do. Chose your method of infection (bacteria, virus, etc) and infect populations. Spread your disease, changing the infection methods, symptoms and resistance as you go. If that isn't fun science I don't know what is!

Move The Turtle (iOS) A fun and simple app, the objective here is to learn programming. You can practice using a variety of easy-to-learn commands that will make your turtle do just about anything.

Cargo-Bot (iOS) Another programming game however, in this one the goal is to program a robot to move boxes into specific patterns. In the beginning its quite easy to master but as you progress through the levels you learn harder and harder techniques for making your robot do your bidding.

Alge-Bingo (iOS) Algebra and Bingo? They do mix. And they can be fun. In order to fill in your card, users have to complete simple to complex algebra problems.

Math Ninja- (iOS, Android) Another math practice app. Here the objective is to lead your ninja to defend your treehouse against the evil tomatoes. But watch out! Those tomatoes can be sneaky!

Simple Physics- (iOS, Android) You know you have always wanted to design your own roller coaster, ferris wheel or tree house. Now you can. And they will be physically accurate. So design way, but be careful. Physics can be fun but dangerous too.

Those are some of my favorites. What are some of yours? What games do you use to teach and learn with. Leave your ideas in the comments below.

photo credit: SamCheong via photo pin cc
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