Encourage students to get excited about science with these apps and games.

For this week's Top Picks List Friday, we are featuring science apps and games. From physics puzzlers to outdoor apps, you'll find terrific products that encourage students to observe the plants, animals, and habitats around them. Many of these great picks have extension activities and experiments within.

To see the most updated version of this list as well as the rating of each app or game, visit the Top Picks List: 


Every Body Has a Brain
Every Body Has a Brain makes brain science understandable and alluring. Highly interactive and simple games fold in explanations of brain functions. Short, narrated texts partner with animated visuals, songs, and mini-games of several difficulty levels that encourage kids to learn by doing. Read full review.

Bobo Explores Light
Bobo Explores Light packs a ton of exciting interactive science into the app. Kids can learn about light and other related science concepts through a variety of games, short videos, text, stunning photos, and hands-on activities (including holograms) grouped into specific subjects on more than 100 interactive pages. Read full review.

Mobile Observatory
Mobile Observatory is an app encouraging kids to explore, discover, and observe the skies. The homepage features large buttons displaying a dozen options for exploring celestial bodies. In Sky View and Live View, kids point the device at the sky and see a sky map that labels the stars or constellations they’re seeing. Read full review.

Sid's Science Fair
Sid's Science Fair is an excellent and experiential science-and-math learning app that can interest kids in science through three, fair-based activities. Characters call students "scientists," immediately engage them in the activities and reminding them that science is for everyone. Read full review.

Space Physics
Space Physics is a simple machines and physics game with Tron-like graphics. Kids come up with limitless solutions to a single, simple challenge: Make the ball touch the star. Each puzzle presents a set of resources and obstacles, and through repeated attempts, kids get better and better at solving it. Read full review.

Color Uncovered
Color Uncovered is an ebook app from the Exploratorium museum in San Francisco. It explores a range of science topics related to color, including colorblindness, light refraction, optical illusions, the "feelings" of color, painting, and pigment. Read full review.

Lifeboat to Mars
Lifeboat to Mars is an ecosystem simulator hosted by PBS Kids Go! and developed by Red Hill Studios with the support of the National Science Foundation. An interplanetary ark transports microbes, plants, and animals from Earth to Mars to create an ecosystem capable of supporting terrestrial life. Read full review.

Geared 2!
The silly fun and challenging physics of Geared 2! will encourage kids to use logic and strategy to solve each puzzle. As the challenges build and students need to add obstacles, they'll use critical thinking and trial-and-error tests. Read full review.

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. Read full review.

trainyard app

Trainyard is an innovative puzzle game with clean, attractive graphics and a well-designed interface. The game is simple enough that a young child could play the easier levels, but the more advanced levels will challenge puzzle-loving adults. Read full review.

Crazy Plant Shop
Crazy Plant Shop is an engaging browser-based game that embeds learning about Punnett squares and genetic expression into a shop sim. Students assume the role of a plant shop owner who must breed specific types of plants to fulfill customer orders. Read full review.

Kerbal Space Program
It offers a solid simulation of astrodynamics and physics, and students who take the time to observe flight readouts and toy with the ship’s trajectory will learn fundamentals of rocket science and realistic, modern-day space flight. Read full review.

Google Earth
Students can examine the continental shelf or research landmarks via a quick-access menu with nearby iconic images. Searches fly them across the globe using time-delayed satellite images of Earth and overlaid icons that provide facts and services. Read full review.

Project Noah
The interactive field guide is a great way for kids to learn about plants and animals in their neighborhood or around the world. Local and global missions can be a fun way for teachers to get kids actively observing their environment and participating in real-world scientific research. Read full review.

BrainPOP Featured Movie
When kids first open the app, they can go to the bottom of the screen to explore an academic subject, or they can watch the featured movie. Related videos sit next to the featured video, so if kids want to keep learning about the same subject, they can immediately go deeper. Read full review.


What apps, games, and websites do you use to get your students excited about science? Sign in to comment below.

Ellen H.

Ellen is the former online community manager for the Graphite educator community. Her other experiences include managing various nonprofit online communities, including the award-winning documentary film, "Miss Representation." and serving as the communications and engagement manager for KQED Education.