Review by Amanda Finkelberg, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2012
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Star Chart

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Powerful pocket-sized map of the universe delights

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Science
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
3-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)
3

Take a look inside

5 images

Pros: This easy-to-use and elegant tool connects kids to space and takes the guesswork out of stargazing.

Cons: Doesn't offer any additional features or extensions for classroom use.

Bottom Line: A great way to supplement or stimulate kids' love of stargazing.

Astronomy students and stargazers will love having answers about the sky in their pocket. The universe and illustrated overlay shows drawings of the 88 constellations (by 15th-century astronomer Johannes Hevelius), labels for stars, and planets and their orbits. Not too shabby. Star Chart doesn’t provide much depth or context for what students are seeing, but it could be a nice addition to astronomy lessons or units nonetheless. You could ask kids to do nighttime observations to bolster concepts learned during class, or have kids use Star Chart during the school day to reinforce the idea that space is still there, even when it’s light outside.

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Star Chart is an app that takes the guesswork out of stargazing, making the sky as easy to read as a Google map. Kids simply point their GPS-enabled phone or mobile device in any direction to see a map showing which stars, constellations, planets, and other celestial objects they’re looking at. At night, kids can find stars in the sky and use the chart to find out the stars’ names and how far they are from Earth. They can also look around for the various constellations and view drawings, or turn off the drawings to clearly see the layout of the stars in space. Kids can also point the device down to look below the horizon and get a sense of the immenseness of space.

A few great features include being able to point the device at the night sky and not only see the name of the planet or star above, but also find out more information about it by tapping it. A pop-up gives stats such as distance from Earth, spectral class, and altitude.

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It gives kids a great way to connect with space from a familiar device, making them the “center” of the universe. This augmented reality tool would be a great supplement to lessons or units covering space and astronomy. Kids can “travel to” other planets to see their vantage point or toggle on a “night view” mode, which gives off less glare and is easier on the eyes in darkness. It’s also cool to point the device down at the ground and see the space below Earth; this can help give kids a sense of the round planet we’re living on and the vastness of the universe around us. Be aware that this app eats up batteries, so don’t forget to quit out of it when you’re done or you may not have enough battery power to call the news about that UFO sighting!

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Overall Rating
3

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

Beautiful star map will be a hit with students. Augmented reality makes stargazing an interactive experience and daytime "armchair" astronomy come to life. Star lovers will take quickly to the map, but other kids may need support.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
2
It's great for what it is -- an interactive map of the cosmos -- but Star Chart doesn't have much in the way of integrated learning. It could add depth or be a helpful supplement to a unit on astronomy, though.
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

A help page within the app offers technical support, but there's no "how to" or other help menu option. Still, the experience is largely intuitive for tech-savvy kids, and the touch interface is pretty easy to use.


Teacher Reviews

4
(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Gary S. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Webster City Middle School
Webster City, IA
4
Uses stunning background to present visuals on space

Kids are fascinated with stars. How far away are they? Where is the Big Dipper? Why are they in different places different times of the year? How big are they? This app can give them the answers. Using the device's GPS, it creates a real-time look at the skies, day or night. Point the device at a spot in the sky and it will show you the stars and constellations in that area. As you move across the sky, the app moves the stars accordingly. Names of major stars are shown, as well as the constellations (both line & picture drawings). Touching a star brings up information about it. Sky search allows you to look for planets, stars, constellations, & messiers, or take tours. Tours are visually stunning representations of planets, as if you were flying by them. In-app purchases include meteor showers and extended solar system. This is a simple, beautifully done app that will amaze users.

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