While there is no app out there that can explain the meaning of life to you and your kids, there are a number of touch-based educational offerings that explore all forms of life on our planet. Whether you have a toddler just beginning to learn the names of animals or a high schooler who wants to learn about the inner workings of a body without having to dissect a frog, there are many great biology, ecology and life sciences apps to hop into. Here are five of the best.
Frog Dissection (iPad $3.99)
Everyone is curious what the lies beyond the skin. Frogs have been a long time model of understanding the function, position and relative size of organs, tissues, and systems. This is an excellent use of touch-driven educational activity that also happens to be odorless and environmentally sensitive. This app might be used instead of a frog dissection lab or as a pre-lab preparation exercise. It gives students an appreciation of the layers of a frog's tissue in a system approach to anatomy and function. Students drive a scalpel or scissors with their fingertips, 'lift' tissues or organs out of the way, and spin organs around while the narrator explains what they are seeing on the screen. Frog Dissection is best for high school biology students.
-Curated by Gordon Shupe
Ansel & Clair's Adventures in Africa (iPad $3.99)
In this app, students are guided through the Nile Valley, Sahara Desert, and Serengeti Plains by Ansel, a travel photographer from another planet, and Clair, a brilliant robot. As students travel around the three locales, they learn about the different animals of Africa. While students primarily learn about geography, history, and science facts, they are also learning vocabulary and reading skills, as well as critical thinking. There are amazing graphics and fun games as the students take photos and create a travel log. Ansel & Clair's Adventures in Africa is best for preschoolers and early elementary school-aged students.
-Curated by Julene Reed
Ecosystems HD (iPad $2.99)
This app is truly an interactive textbook, with lots of pictures, and easy to understand text that is accessible for all ages. Children can choose between six ecosystems to explore. They are presented with an encyclopedia-style entry that provides and overview of the ecosystem. They can swipe through fun facts and gallery images and take a pop quiz. The quizzes are leveled and make connections to Bloom's Taxonomy. There is even the option to watch handpicked YouTube videos that show off each ecosystem. Ecosystems HD is best for elementary school and middle school-aged students.
-Curated by Monica Burns
WWF Together (iPad Free)
WWF Together offers stunning wildlife images and useful information on species, habitat, environmental concerns, and more to help paint a picture of the struggles many wild animals face around the globe. Kindergartners and first graders will like flipping through the app with mom and dad. Older kids should be fine on their own. Kids click on one of a dozen animals to learn facts and see additional photos. Major problems facing each species are also highlighted. Students may also click on an animated globe to learn about dozens of other wild animals facing habitat loss or related concerns. WWF Together is best for older elementary school-aged students.
Curated by Brad Spirrison
HudsonAlpha iCell (iPad Free)
This app teaches basic cell structure with information on different parts of a cell is provided in a 3D environment for plant, animal, and bacterial cell study and comparison of the three types of cells. This app is excellent for providing students with information about cell structures in an interactive, 3D environment. Kids will love exploring the cells in this virtual environment in ways that are not available in other situations. Being able to see these basic units of molecular structure and their parts gets kids excited about the wonder of science. HudsonAlpha iCell will appeal mostly to middle schoolers and high schoolers.
Curated by Julene Reed