App review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2012
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Visually super NASA-backed treasure trove may overwhelm

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Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 9 reviews
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2–12 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
Science, Critical Thinking

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4 images

Pros: The images are incredible, and daily updates keep things fresh.

Cons: Tons of information, but a lack of direction may overhwhelm some kids.

Bottom Line: A visually stunning way to get kids interested in science and space exploration.

NASA has so much information that it may require your guidance to help kids find the most relevant information to their current course of study, report topic, or current event. Search the app by keyword, feature, or category.

Otherwise, for students interested in general space and NASA information, simply suggest tapping on whatever image or category interests them and see where it leads. New information every day creates a constantly updated stream of images and content, so it's worth checking back in to see if something fresh has popped up that might fit right into your curriculum.

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NASA is a place where kids can learn basic astronomy facts, and about NASA's specific missions, by navigating through videos, photos, live feeds, and loads of text. New information is added daily from a variety of NASA sources, including NASA's public television channel. Students can select a NASA image of the day or an astronomy picture of the day to view, or search information by date, keyword, or seven different categories, which run along the bottom of the main screen. Users can log in via Facebook Connect to share information, but this is optional. There's also a built-in Twitter feed, but you don't need an account to follow NASA tweets.

The app reinforces topics by presenting the information in different ways, including text, videos, photos, and social media. Tap on a planet in the main screen's solar system, and a detailed overview of the planet with images, facts and figures, and a long explainer appears. NASA also has a news feature so students can stay on top of current space exploration events and information.

Gorgeous digital representations of the solar system, videos of rocket launches, new images of Earth taken from the International Space Station, and much more are likely to spark interest in space exploration in ways that written explanations or old textbook graphics simply can't. For a free resource, it's got a lot going on! The most impressive elements on this app are, by far, the stunning visuals, with more than 150,000 and still more added daily. Science-minded kids should love poking around the app, but it could be a little dry for younger ones. Another potential challenge: While NASA provides an abundance of facts about space exploration, there may be almost too much info with too little direction for some kids.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

Visual images will pull many kids in and encourage them to find out more through the other content on the site. New photos, videos, and tweets are added constantly.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Younger kids may need help reading and understanding the excellent, in-depth space-related content on this site, but older kids should be able to readily understand most of the information presented.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

The large amount of information and options may require an adult to guide kids toward the content most relevant to them. There's no real tutorial or overview that presents the options in an organized way.

Common Sense reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Community Rating

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Featured review by
Brianna G. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Norris Middle School
Omaha, United States
Visually Amazing with a lot of information
This is a great app for astronomy. NASA is always updating the information and pictures that are available. My students loved the visual images that were provided. There is a lot of information to decipher in this app and my ELLs, low literacy, and special needs students needed a lot of help with this app.
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