Common Sense


10 Great Free Apps for Middle School

These are 10 of the best free apps for middle school. Each has been handpicked by our editorial staff because it offers unique experiences that'll both support and challenge kids in grades 6-8. Use these apps to pique students' interest and to help them acquire new skills and demonstrate learning. There's a healthy dose of subject-specific tools -- especially for STEM classrooms -- as well as discipline-spanning creative and productivity tools that'll be useful no matter what your students are learning. Students can use these free apps to develop creative skills, take notes, collect and analyze data, and present information. If you have a 1-to-1 or BYOD classroom -- or even just access to a tablet cart -- we hope the apps on this list can serve your students well all year long.

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Playground Physics

Fun video app lets students track motion to explore physics concepts

Bottom line: This is a cheap way to get students out of their chairs to make physics real and tangible, empowering learners and encouraging curiosity.


Easy-to-use iPad app aimed at recording whiteboard instruction

Bottom line: While many other whiteboard tools offer endless -- and often overwhelming -- options, this app is usefully refined and could be that "just right" experience for many.

Common Sense Selection

Google Earth

Dazzling globe-trotting tool has endless classroom applications

Bottom line: This tool defines engagement and offers a completely open-ended experience perfect for use across the educational spectrum.

NASA Visualization Explorer

Updated stories help kids stay up to speed with space exploration

Bottom line: Weekly updates and striking visuals make it easy for kids to stay informed about NASA's most recent discoveries.

Paper by WeTransfer

Beautifully designed digital sketchbook for any age

Bottom line: The simplicity and effectiveness of the app make this a powerful sketch and note-taking tool for the iPad.

Photoshop Express Photo Editor

Top-notch photo editor helps perfect pics for creative projects

Bottom line: This is a powerful, free creation tool from the industry leader in photo editing.

Microsoft OneNote

Note-taking giant built for flexible, collaborative work

Bottom line: A powerful (and free) tool for thinking and organization that's making smart strides in the education space.


Create dynamic visual presentations on flexible storytelling platform

Bottom line: A seamless transition from design to presentation makes Sway a great fit for presenting carefully curated content.

Arduino Science Journal

Turn your phone into a lab sensor to collect and analyze data

Bottom line: Science Journal does a good job recording real-time motion, sound, and light data using phones.

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