7 STEM Apps for Higher Order Thinking

Help students develop and apply a conceptual understanding of science.

January 03, 2014
Ellen Holderman
Common Sense Education

CATEGORIES In the Classroom, Technology Integration, Tools

It's Top-Pick List Friday! This week, we are featuring apps for higher order thinking. These seriously fun apps help students develop and apply a conceptual understanding of science by solving puzzles, designing solutions to novel problems, and engineering new inventions.

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


world of goo app

World of Goo
World of Goo challenges kids to analyze truly creative scenarios and experiment with physical properties in a sophisticated cinematic environment. Each puzzle offers a somewhat unique building challenge, and goo ball properties change just enough to keep kids continually on their toes. Read full review.

go car go app

Go Car Go
Go Car Go is an incredibly fun game of physics in action. Kids create cars from an assortment of materials -- wheels and blocks of various weights and sizes -- and then send their cars down a course, hoping to catch a star before crossing the finish line. Read full review.

amazing alex app

Amazing Alex - This product is no longer available.
Amazing Alex is a crazy-contraptions physics puzzler that challenges players to think and create with a handful of everyday objects and tools. There's no one "right" way to solve a puzzle, which encourages a trial-and-error mentality that's so important to being a successful inventor. Read full review.

tinkerbox app

TinkerBox - This product is no longer available.
TinkerBox is part game, part creative outlet. Kids can work their way through the six levels of puzzles, each offering many stages, where they drag the right object into place to complete the physics puzzler -- think Rube Goldberg machines. Read full review.

cargo bot app

Kids playing Cargo-Bot write programs to control a robotic arm, having the robot move crates into the configuration shown on the top of the screen. Kids can work through a six-level tutorial first to get familiar with the controls and features (even the tutorial is challenging!). Read full review.

trainyard app

Trainyard is a train routing puzzle game that's easy to learn but hard to master. The goal: Get the color-coded trains from their outlets to their correct stations. As the game progresses, kids encounter new obstacles and techniques coupled with effective tutorials that pop up (usually just when needed) during play. Read full review.

doodlefit app

With 110 levels and multiple solutions for many of the puzzles, Doodle Fit will keep kids solving problems for quite a while. Each puzzle challenges them to study the whole to see where blocks can and can't fit. Read full review.


What websites or apps do you use that help students understand and have fun with science, technology and math? Sign in to comment below.