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10 innovative STEAM education apps

There are plenty of options perfect for integrating STEAM in the classroom

steam-appsIt’s no secret that the concept of STEM education, which emphasizes the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math, has made its way to the heart of the ongoing education debate. But now, STEAM education is refreshing the STEM model with a curriculum update.

Adding the “a” for arts, proponents of STEAM, which is spearheaded by the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), advocate for greater integration of the arts in education. They believe that art and design will have as big an impact on the economy and job market as science and technology have in recent years.

This rising trend in education is an opportunity for educators to engage their students in new and more creative ways – and as with so many other things, there is definitely an app for that.

Whether you need a building app to inspire interest in engineering or a painting app to hone art skills, there are plenty of options perfect for integrating STEAM in the classroom.

(Next page: Apps 1-3)

Science Apps

1. A Life Cycle App, iPhone/iPad, Android, $0.99

This inexpensive app, created by high school students, educators, and parents in Texas, provides illustrations and narrations to help students understand the life cycles of a variety of creatures. The different options of life cycles to follow, ranging from the life cycle of a frog to photosynthesis, can be selected according to grade level, making this app educational and engaging for students of all ages.

2. Science 360 for iPad, iPad, Free

Created by the National Science Foundation, this app offers a newsfeed with updates from scientific institutions, as well as photo and video content from around the world. Students can search for specific content using, as well as save their favorite material with the touch of a finger.

They can stay informed using the newsfeed, or follow their interests by exploring other videos and articles. The wide variety of information available makes this app versatile and useful in science classes of different grade levels.

Technology Apps

3. Do Ink Animation & Drawing, iPad, $4.99

This app allows users to create animations at their own level. Easy-to-use and complete with powerful drawing tools, Do Ink features flipbook-style animation, motion paths, and software to publish  creations. This is another app suitable for many different age groups, because the level of animation sophistication can be easily adjusted. It also blends technology with creativity, fulfilling two aspects of STEAM in one program.

4. Hakitzu Elite: Robot Hackers, iPhone/iPad, Android, Free

Students can become “code warriors” using this app, as they learn the basics of JavaScript while hacking their friends and fighting robots. Kids do not need any previous coding knowledge to use it, as the game guides you through levels of difficulty.

The more you code, the more you unlock points and tools. And a new feature, in-game leaderboards, can rank students against their friends, adding a dose of some friendly competition.

Engineering Apps

5. Build a Ship with Kate and Harry, iPhone/iPad, Android, $1.99

An easy engineering app for younger children, Build a Ship allows students to choose to work with character Kate or Harry, and tap parts to build a ship – there are over 3000 design combinations to choose from, and all are attainable in five steps.

Upon completion of a ship, the game also features a short video in which kids can watch Kate or Harry drive the ship while a virtual audience applauds, adding some positive reinforcement.

6. Cat Physics, iPhone/iPad, Android, $1.99

This app builds on a simple premise – passing a ball from one cat to another – by complicating it with moving obstacles like trap doors and flip boards. Students must navigate a tricky environment to complete each challenge, in order to unlock achievements and win stars as part of a ranking system.

The app also offers 100 thought-provoking puzzles to keep kids entertained. It has received praise for its quality graphics and physics content.

Arts Apps

7. MoMA Art Lab, iPad, Free

The MoMA Art Lab app lets students get creative and make sound compositions, shape poems, group drawings, and more. They can research the work of famous artists like Henri Matisse, Alexander Calder, and more, then explore these artists’ style and processes. From this inspiration, they can create and save their own pieces.

This app provides an easy and creative way to expose students of all ages to masterpieces and art history early in their education.

8. iPastels, iPhone/iPad, Free

Centered on the medium of pastels, this app lets students create digital art. Even those without strong art skills will be entertained enough to learn through practice, and those with more art experience can use the app to plan out their real pastel projects.

The app actually simulates soft chalk pastels, and tries to be as realistic possible, allowing students to experiment with form and color by blending the different shades on the digital paper. Tools like Smudge and Cotton Swab add to the lifelike nature of the app, and give students even more design options.

Math Apps

9. Bugs and Numbers, iPhone/iPad, $2.99

This app offers 18 games and activities, with 36 achievements and awards. It allows students to practice a range of math skills in a “non-traditional way.” The game is organized into three different stages, and is meant to grow with the student, as activities range from counting to fractions.

On a fun note, it’s designed around a bug city, with each game making a parallel to our own society while targeting specific math skills.

10. King of Math, iPhone/iPad, Android, $1.99

King of Math tackles 12 math topics, from basic addition and subtraction to powers, statistics, and equations. Students will begin as a farmer and their character evolves as they answer math questions, win points, and move through the levels, winning stars and achievements.

Scores can be compared between friends and other players worldwide, and there is a free version of the game available for a trial run before purchasing the full version.

Carly Buchanan is an Editorial Intern at eSchool News.

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