Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2012
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Science360 for iPad

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Amazing images, videos, and fact-packed text on many science topics

Common Sense says
Teachers say (12 Reviews)
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Grades
2-10 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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5 images

Pros: It's beautiful, free, and info-packed and will appeal to a wide rage of ages.

Cons: Although there's lots (and lots) of information, it comes with little guidance or interactivity.

Bottom Line: This massive science video, image, and info site has something new for everyone.

In the classroom, teachers can use Science360 to introduce a lesson on a specific topic or share a variety of short, up-to-date snippets on new science research. Watching some of these videos will feel like taking your students on virtual field trips. Coordinate a related science experiment in the classroom with Science360, and voila -- you have an onsite, interactive outing! Students can use Science360 to research reports, get ideas for science projects, or explore careers in the sciences.

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Science360 is a free, high-quality science and engineering news and information app published by the National Science Foundation. Updated weekly with content produced by the NSF or gathered from scientists, colleges, universities, and NSF science and engineering centers, Science360 exposes kids to a wide variety of science, nature, space, and engineering topics via videos, photos, and text. As students watch and read about cutting-edge science, they learn about the relevance of science topics to everyday life and school subjects. For example, one video illustrates physics laws by describing how a puck moves during a hockey game. Science360 enables students to share the information they've learned via social networking or in multimedia school reports, and to save their favorites via the star tab.

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The scores of videos here -- including scientists interacting with jellyfish or using alien telescopes -- will appeal to science- and nature-loving students, and may also help reluctant science students connect to their inner scientists. Other features, like text-only segments about motorized nanocars or the computer-charged density of FeO, may be too esoteric for younger kids as well as teens whose interests don't gravitate toward complex science topics. Younger kids may only want to watch the videos, as the text in many segments contains high-level vocabulary and complex sentences. The app is engaging but would be even more so with quizzes or other interactive options, as well as better search features.

A standout aspect of Science360 (in addition to the fact that it's free) is that it puts the world of science at students' fingertips in a visually compelling way. This may incline them to explore science, nature, or engineering topics they never thought about before, simply because the captivating images are in front of them on an iPad screen.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

Many beautiful images and videos plus lots of compelling new information make this an engaging app for science-minded kids. The somewhat overwhelming main page with very little direction may be too much for some.

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

Kids learn by viewing a large group of updated thumbnail images related to science videos and text, choosing the ones that interest them or are relevant to their current studies, and then sharing them socially.

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

The icon-based tutorial could use more info. There's not much direction or ability to search for specific titles. Related titles appear when kids dig into one that catches their eye from the main page. Users can star favorites.


Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Marilyn G. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Santa Barbara Junior High School
Santa Barbara, CA
3
Wonderful way to emphasize the diversity of science fields

Great way to jump start conversations about science and the scientific method. Needs teacher prep to make sure the content is not muddled along the way and to choose better topics. It gives the students a feeling of choice in the matter and revives curiosity. It's a nice opportunity to model appropriate questions to ask and how to decipher tough concepts. Many of the images discuss experiments and lend themselves to an analysis of how the scientific method is employed.

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