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Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2012

Celeste SE

Cool tool brings planets to life through your mobile device

Common Sense says
Teachers say (1 Review)
$avg_user_learning_rating
Grades
1-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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4 images

Pros: Stunning visuals, like images from a high-resolution telescope, get kids familiar with the solar system.

Cons: You can't see stars!

Bottom Line: Planets, the moon, and the sun are literally at your fingertips, and kids get a sense of the cosmos as well as information about it.

Take your students outside to use this app at first -- the concept is easier to grasp there, rather than indoors. As a class, use the app to track the sun's path throughout a day. For integrating history, talk about how people have always been interested in celestial movements and used other pre-technology tools like sundials and monuments to track them.

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Pure wizardry: Learn about planets, the moon, and the sun by pointing your smartphone at the sky. Choose the one you want to know more about and move your phone to align it with the circle on the screen. Augmented reality images of celestial bodies (which may or may not be visible to the naked eye) appear as if viewed through a telescope. Tap the button in the pop-up window, and you can see the path the object takes through the sky and get more information about it.

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The pop-up facts may be too dry for some kids, and it's too bad you can't view stars and constellations. Still, Celeste SE is an amazing way for kids to engage with and learn about the objects in our solar system. This app can simply be a way for kids to gain a general concept of how the planets, sun, and moon travel through the sky. The compass can help younger kids learn north, south, east, and west, and help older kids develop a more keen sense of orienteering. Finally, the pop-up facts and other tools -- such as the minute-by-minute tracker as each planet moves across the sky -- can create a more in-depth learning experience.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

We dare you to look away from the stunning images of the solar system delivered to your phone. The pop-up facts may be a bit dry for younger kids, but older kids will want details.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

It's empowering to find the planets, the sun, and the moon in relation to where you're standing, and to track their paths. Pop-up facts bring some depth to a mostly fun, visual approach to learning about celestial bodies.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
2

An intro page shows how to calibrate your device for more accurate planet positions, but that's the extent of a tutorial. The compass may expand learning opportunities. 


Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

2
(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews)
Featured review by
David B. , School district administrator
School district administrator
Oakland Unified School District
Oakland, CA,
2
Sky Map app delivers less

CeleseteSE, one of many sky map apps, allows a smartphone user to locate celestial objects. In the day time, this means identifying the direction of the objects. But at night, you can point your phone to the sky and find out what that bright light is. Unlike other free sky map apps, CelesteSE only shows the location of objects within the solar system: sun, planets and moon. It's only claim to usefulness is that students can click on the objects and learn about them. What this amounts are little "tweet-sized" random facts that are not in any thoughtful order. Although it's only two dollars, there are free sky map apps that deliver more: like identifying constellations, stars, galaxies, and settings that allow you to find out what will be in the sky on a specific date in the future or past.

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