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App review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2012
HowStuffWorks

HowStuffWorks

Explore the world's nuts and bolts in this fab interactive info hub

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 3 reviews
Privacy rating
Not yet rated Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
9–12
Subjects & Skills
Arts, English Language Arts, Social Studies, Critical Thinking

Take a look inside

5 images

Pros: With the range of information available, kids are sure to learn something new and interesting.

Cons: Some bugs in the video podcasts so what you click is not what you see.

Bottom Line: Interesting, well-researched articles make this free resource a gem.

In English classes, choose interesting articles to share in whole-class instruction to model informational reading strategies. Use the articles as examples of compiling research into an informal paper, and show the references included as an example of citing sources. This is a great place to talk about appropriate sources, and why documentation is important -- just because it's online doesn't mean it's true. With the variety of topics, every teen will find something of interest, so use it as free choice non-fiction reading.

Other content areas can use relevant articles, videos, or podcasts to introduce topics in the classroom -- science, history, arts, culture, and more -- it's all there!

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HowStuffWorks for iPad is a huge resource created in conjunction with the Discovery Channel that covers virtually every topic, from technology and spirituality to cooking and investing. In addition to telling you how all different kinds of stuff works, this app answers even more questions for the curious-minded, like "Can our brains see the fourth dimension?" Similar to its sister website, this app allows you to simply use your fingertip to select the desired subject matter, which is organized into 6 sections; Articles, Video, Shows, Quizzes, Facts/Quotes, and Search. Kids can listen to podcasts, browse articles, or take interactive quizzes to test their knowledge as they absorb all this new information.

The articles are concise and well-written, with an informal style that will appeal to kid readers. Sources are well-documented, too, which serves as a great example for teens beginning research. HowStuffWorks for iPad offers easy access to engaging non-fiction, informational texts, which teens may find more accessible in these short chunks as opposed to textbook study. It's important for teens to explore a reliable resource on the Internet; with all the misinformation out there, this is a place with real answers. Video and audio podcasts give kids a few different ways to absorb info beyond just reading.

Some funky stuff: Some videos are buggy and don't pull up the correct video to play. Keep an eye out for mature content ("10 Ways to Get Sexual Satisfaction" and "How Meth Works" for example), and while this awesome app is free, it's ad-heavy, with a banner ad across the bottom of the screen and video ads playing before selections play.

Overall Rating

Engagement

Gives teens immediate access to a wealth of knowledge, offering incredible breadth and depth of topics. Free, ad-supported app a gem. Shows and video podcasts load quickly and run smoothly. 

Pedagogy

Learning happens via the massive collection of articles, videos, and audio podcasts, 40,000 strong. Users can gain meaningful understanding of concepts due to excellent presentation and depth of topics.

Support

Bits of interactivity in the form of quizzes, but more would be better. Every article lets users tag it as a favorite and share it (through email, Facebook, or Twitter) or wirelessly print the piece. 


Common Sense reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Community Rating

(See all 3 reviews) (3 reviews)
Featured review by
Andy G. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
great app it gives you access to facts, quotes, videos that can get you interested and involved into how things work
The app is full of information and which can be used for any area and field of teaching. There are quizzes and 10 featured articles/videos that you can look through very quickly to find something that might catch your and students attention. The main menu is very easy to navigate and this app is great for finding something to introduce a lesson and to get students interested.
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Privacy Rating

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