Common Sense


Best NGSS Apps, Games, and Websites

With their three-dimensional blend of Disciplinary Core Ideas, Crosscutting Concepts, and Science & Engineering Practices, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have tons of potential to reshape how students learn science. However, teachers know that it can be a tall order to find edtech well-suited to NGSS's unique style of inquiry-driven and conceptually focused STEM learning. These tools are the best we've found for investigating phenomena and doing science, not just learning content. 

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Analyze Real-Life Data

Lawrence Hall of Science: 24/7 Science

First-class site for science games and investigations

Bottom line: These well-designed and highly educational activities challenge and engage kids in all the right ways.

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.

Coach's Eye - Video Analysis

Robust video analysis for sports, science, fine arts performances

Bottom line: Cool video-analysis tool is great for the sports field and beyond, but prepare for an onslaught of hidden costs to access all features.

Tuva Labs

Access to curated data sets has tons of potential, needs more teacher support

Bottom line: Partner with another teacher (preferably a data whiz) and work together to develop activities that will support learning in your classes.


Bring physics to life using lab sensors built right into your smartphone

Bottom line: Use your smartphone to gather data and study speed, gravity, waves, and other physics concepts.


Online science, mastered: exceptional content within meaningful tasks

Bottom line: Serious, sophisticated science engagement -- but be prepared to take some prep time to connect these labs with your classroom.

The PocketLab

Gather and analyze live data anywhere

Bottom line: A science sensor that pairs with your mobile device to gather and analyze data is perfect for inquiry-based learning.


High-quality multimedia brings biological research to life

Bottom line: Superb multimedia tools and lesson plans help kids explore biology through real-world examples.

Develop a Global Perspective

Ansel and Clair's Adventures in Africa

Find lions, giraffes, and a robot (oh my!) in this fab app adventure

Bottom line: Highly engaging way for kids to discover Africa's fascinating animals and ecosystems.

Mystery Science

Big questions, kids' curiosity drive thoughtful science curriculum

Bottom line: Powerful science units that capitalize on elementary students’ natural curiosity.

Journey North

Long-standing citizen science site continues to inspire learners

Bottom line: Extensive resources can help kids collect, share, and analyze evidence about seasonal change.


Real research powered by volunteers makes classroom content relevant

Bottom line: Engage in meaningful, relevant research with citizen scientists from around the world.


Earth's deep geologic history and real science data at your fingertips

Bottom line: An unbeatable Earth Science app for its data, scope, and potential for learning.

NASA Global Climate Change - Vital Signs of the Planet

Tons of climate change info from expert sources in one easy place

Bottom line: This is a one-stop shop for climate change info, from basic intro content to practical guides and raw data; good for middle schoolers and up.

Big History Project

Fascinating look at life's bigger questions with a fresh perspective

Bottom line: A wonderfully innovative and divergent way to teach foundational concepts in history, humanities, critical thinking, and science.

Engage in Engineering Practices


Find and assign STEAM tasks with dynamic project-based learning hub

Bottom line: Dynamic resource for finding, creating, and rating lessons that support STEAM and PBL.

Curiosity Machine

Kids build, share, receive pro feedback with awesome engineering site

Bottom line: Though it may not be an instant fit for your classroom, the exceptional quality of the site’s projects and processes makes it worth any problem solving.

Design Squad Nation

Classmates can compete to solve fun engineering problems

Bottom line: Design Squad Nation makes engineering fun through hands-on activities and easy-to-understand scientific explanations.

DIY Sun Science

Exciting astronomy resource brightens learning in the classroom

Bottom line: Excellent, free reference tool inspires and teaches kids about the sun.

Mosa Mack Science

Engaging design challenges turn kids into actual science detectives

Bottom line: An engaging way to weave some engineering into your middle school science lessons.

Autodesk Design Academy

Outstanding project-based tutorials for popular engineering software

Bottom line: The projects found here are a great way to teach and learn digital design; all are truly fantastic (and free!), with everything you need ready to go.

Play with Simulations and Sandboxes

Simple Machines by Tinybop

Excellent elementary NGSS engineering practices embedded in fun games

Bottom line: Fun gameplay lets kids explore important physics concepts in a solid standards-aligned context.

PhET Interactive Simulations

Massive cache of excellent (and free!) science and math simulations

Bottom line: Instantly add meaningful lab experiences to math and science classrooms for exactly $0? It's tough to beat that.

Space by Tinybop

Zoom into our solar system, solve mysteries with open-ended play

Bottom line: Learn about the sun, moon, and planets through interactive open-ended play.

ExploreLearning Gizmos

Vast array of science and math simulations impresses

Bottom line: This powerful set of math and science tools puts the learning in students' hands.


Sandbox tool enables engaged, conceptual physics inquiry

Bottom line: A robust, free pedagogical tool that's like a digital workbench where kids build and apply conceptual science knowledge.


Virtual labs epitomize the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices

Bottom line: Earth, life, and physical science simulations coach kids through the NGSS Practices.

The Concord Consortium

Vast collection of science resources emphasizes written reflection

Bottom line: A selection of online science simulations paired with a teacher dashboard to track progress.


Customize science simulations to highlight phenomena

Bottom line: Science simulations become more effective with teacher-added edits and formative assessments.

Tyto Ecology

Well-developed biome sim provides cheap, endless learning

Bottom line: This affordable ecosystem balancing game teaches life science skills while keeping students engaged.

Kerbal Space Program

Design and launch a rocket into space in realistic astrophysics sim

Bottom line: This accurate rocket sim encourages trial-and-error learning and makes for great (and often explosive) physics and engineering experiments.

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