It was a toss up this week with two choices but I went with option 2 mainly because I enjoyed Tech Play 3 last week and this seemed similar. I also wanted to dive more into the content specific apps, namely science. Though I am currently involved in administration and it has been at least four years since I was teaching in the science classroom I still care about science curriculum yet I haven’t dug much into the latest science related apps/tools currently available. Here’s somethings I discovered.
The iSeismometer is not a new app by any stretch but would be very effective in teaching geology lessons in the realm of plate tectonics. Students can watch a video about earthquakes, they can study up of seismographs and come away with some knowledge or they can experience a seismograph in their hands, create their own vibrations and observe the measurements. Now this is not an actual seismometer but it gives students hands on experience and will enhance lessons regarding seismic waves and measuring earthquakes intensity. You can also use it to measure sound waves if placed on a speaker and reflect on the differences between volume levels and bass vs. treble.
There is a plethora of astronomy apps, but an effective, user-friendly app I’ve observed used before is Sky Map. This is used to navigate the night sky. It can help you locate planets, star clusters, constellations. It becomes very meaningful in conjunction with a science e-journal. It can be difficult to yield positive results when giving students maps during the day and give them a night-sky assignment to do later that evening. The sky many times looks totally different on that paper map and you cannot always be there to assist with sky markers and help identify what needs to be id’d. Sky Map is the help you would give, but coming from their device. There are far more sophisticated devices available but this is one of many that does not have much of a learning curve. Another fun app is the ISS Detector that accurately alerts you as to when you can view the International Space Station orbiting overhead. These are very flipped classroom friendly apps especially from the stand point of not being at school to observe the night sky.
Have you ever taught about specific animal characteristics like a bats use of echolocation? A neat app that would help students get an idea of using sound waves to measure distance is called Sonar Ruler. Students can measure their distance from a wall or a large object when their device sends out a sound burst and then calculates how long the echo takes to bounce back. When students can get hands on experience like the concept becomes way more real to them and will “stick” more often then not.
These were just a few of hundreds of helpful apps available in the science content area that will make science lessons/homework more meaningful. Another great thing about these apps, especially in flipped classroom situations, is that families can get involved and that can make the experience more powerful for the students to see that mom or dad is interested in what they are learning. I would encourage teachers to review their TEKS and research what apps could be used to enhance instruction in and out of their classroom.