iPad Apps for Science Educators

On Friday, December 9th I sat in on the Burlington High School Science Department meeting that centered around their use of the iPad 2 in their 1:1 science classrooms. Now almost four months into the pilot program I thought the meeting would give me an opportunity to check the pulse of an initiative that I have been widely insulated from despite sharing the same building. The following apps were all recommended at different times by Burlington science teachers who had become familiar with the apps through their own use in the classroom.

Air Sketch: An app allowing teachers or students to write on their iPad from anywhere and have their work show up on their classroom’s interactive whiteboard. What is nice about this app is that there is no extra software to install. The app works by drawing to a blank slate on a website. Teachers pull up a web browser, open the custom link given to them by Air Sketch, and the screens are mirrored. The downside to this is that teachers can not flop back and forth between using the iPad and their IWBs tools to draw on the same screen. Air Sketich comes in a free version and a pay version that more features.

Noise Sniffer: Using the microphone on the iPad, Noise Sniffer measures the decibel levels of the volume in a room or the voice of an individual. While the feature is relatively limited (the app does not collect and chart data for example) teacher’s saw this as a great tool to have visible to presenters during presentations. By demanding students bring their voice above a certain decibel level teachers were able to battle a classic presentation problem with students who speak too softly during sharing opportunities.

Vernier Video Physics: Great tool for physics teachers with capabilities that allow students to review classic kinematic scenarios or create their own with customizable variables and the ability to plot travel paths of projectiles as well as pause the motion of objects and analyze their motion and the vector forces acting on them.

Science 360: Used primarily as an “inquiry exploration” app, biology and chemistry teachers will find a literal array of science content in the Science 360 sphere that can be used as a tool to hook students interest into an ever changing mix of science content.

Noterize: Used primarily as a service for students to be able to take notes that include photos taken with the iPad. Two teachers shared that the iPad’s camera does an excellent job of taking photos through microscopes that can be added into the Noterize notes. Teacher’s also liked Noterize for its ability to handle PDFs. (Note: Now called “PaperPort.”

Other Notable Recommendations:

Quizlet: Quizlet was highlighted as the best of the flashcard making tools available. While not an app by itself, teacher’s liked the ease of making flashcards and how students would share flash cards easily with one another using Quizlet.

Molecules“, “iCell” and “Virtual Dissection” were also mentioned but without much discussion. The environmental science teacher planned on using the “7 Billion” and “Our Choice” iPads app in her class as topics pertaining to the focus of those apps came around in the curriculum.

About Sean Musselman

Teacher Dad and Burlington MA Schools K-5 Science and Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator. NSTA Professional Development facilitator and author of "Think Like a Scientist: Investigating Weather and Climate" NSTA Kids ebook.
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