Common Sense

TOP PICKS | 41 TOOLS

STEAM Games, Apps, and Sites

When their forces combine, science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) are a super group of essential subjects that lead to long-lasting learning. Using an interdisciplinary STEAM approach in the classroom increases critical thinking, broadens perspectives, and reduces overall misconceptions. And it's this constructivist type of learning that builds a culture of students willing to tinker and remix with confidence. Mix and match these picks to help students cultivate design sense and inventiveness, gain transferable skills, and make cool, useful stuff. 

Continue reading

Top Picks

RELATED

PrintPrint list

Interdisciplinary Lessons & Activities

NOVA

Compelling science videos have high-quality classroom applications

Bottom line: Stellar simulations, teacher guides, and other activities can stand on their own, and they're enhanced with high-quality video content.

ArtsEdge

Impressive cross-curricular resource helps put the A in STEAM

Bottom line: A useful and engaging resource for integrating the arts into a variety of other subject areas.

Defined STEM

Stellar collection of STEM resources supports project-based learning

Bottom line: Excellent, well-thought-out resources for developing problem-solving skills in the classroom.

Math Science Music

Thoughtful tools teach STEM skills through music and creativity

Bottom line: Limited but quality content gives STEM teachers a new toolset for fostering engagement and understanding.

KidsThinkDesign

Projects inspire creativity; a place for kids' sharing would boost fun

Bottom line: A go-to site for teachers looking for well-presented project ideas; kids will need opportunities to share work locally.

Tuva Labs

Dynamic data exploration tool offers large collection of data sets

Bottom line: Partner with another teacher (preferably a data whiz) and work together to develop cross-curricular activities.

Choreo Graph

Animate with fun geometry STEAM app; learning requires teacher support

Bottom line: Teachers and classroom communities are needed for app activities to meet their learning potential; start with the coordinating lessons.

STEM on Station

Lots of info about the space station, but tricky site organization

Bottom line: This is a great NASA resource for kids to learn about the International Space Station, as long as they're patient with the cluttered site layout.

Couragion

Individualized STEM career exploration targets students' values

Bottom line: Students identify career values and use them to evaluate STEM options.

Engineering, Design, & Making

3DBear AR

3D design and augmented reality merge in creative, interactive app

Bottom line: A great fit for classroom or makerspace settings as long as kids have compatible devices.

Workbench

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.

littleBits Invent

Top-notch tool empowers kids to invent, build, and control wirelessly

Bottom line: Easy-to-use, versatile electronic invention set that works wirelessly with your hand-held device.

3D Slash

Minecraft-like 3D modeling (and printing) made super easy for all ages

Bottom line: This may be the fastest, cheapest route from idea to 3D printing out there, if you don't mind low-res, pixelated designs.

SAM Edu

Wireless blocks promote design, engineering, and programming skills

Bottom line: With some perseverance, SAM is a great fit for PBL and STEAM, helping students learn programming skills through invention.

Design Squad Global

Fun engineering problems encourage classroom competition, innovation

Bottom line: Design Squad Global makes learning STEAM concepts fun through hands-on activities and easy-to-understand scientific explanations.

DIY

Design, build, and share new things offline and online

Bottom line: DIY motivates kids to tackle a wide range of problems with independent and scientific thinking.

Tinkercad

Amazingly simple yet powerful online CAD tool turns kids into makers

Bottom line: A big step forward in making iterative 3D design more accessible and social.

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.

Instructables

Endless collection of DIY projects; good for sharing and inspiration

Bottom line: User-generated projects inspire sharing and learning, though more refined navigation would make it easier to sift through all the great ideas.

SketchUp

Make learning meaningful through 3D design

Bottom line: SketchUp is a fantastic, subject-agnostic tool that does take time to learn but helps students gain truly useful, transferable skills.

WhiteBox Learning

Design, analyze, and then build STEM applications

Bottom line: Complete learning modules include simple CAD design simulation tools, a digital competition, and options for hands-on building.

Make:

Fuel creative makers with project ideas, reviews, and community

Bottom line: Excellent DIY resource that empowers kids to learn by making and experimenting.

Robotics & Coding

Blue-Bot

Simple robot ideal for introducing programming to young learners

Bottom line: Students will develop logical and sequential thinking with Blue-Bot, creating a foundation for future coding activities.

Blockly for Dash & Dot Robots

Adorable robots teach hands-on coding skills

Bottom line: You can program robots with code blocks, with plenty of creative options and lots of fun.

The Robot Factory by Tinybop

Improve designs, collect favorites in robot creation sandbox

Bottom line: A well-made and enjoyable STEM app that leverages what's great about play -- experimentation -- to spark engineering interest.

Scratch

Jump-start future programmers with adaptive sandbox tool

Bottom line: With plenty of time and support, Scratch can help kids of all ages learn essential programming concepts.

Evo by Ozobot

Versatile mini robot tailor-made for teaching coding

Bottom line: Evo encourages students to be creative, emphasizing that coding is a tool in your pocket, not the end game.

Cozmo

A little robot with big personality brings code to life

Bottom line: From Cozmo's engaging personality to endless programming possibilities, this little robot will capture your heart and spark imagination.

Sphero Edu

Cool robots and creative play make programming irresistible

Bottom line: Hub for Sphero robots draws crafty kids who love making into coding, and it empowers them to be collaborators.

Microsoft MakeCode

Bring code to life with circuits, robots, Minecraft, and more

Bottom line: Once you purchase the hardware, MakeCode opens doors to an incredible diversity of coding applications.

Google CS First

Middle school CS platform offers stellar resources, organizing tools

Bottom line: If your middle school doesn't have a CS program or club, now you do!

Game-Based Learning

Toca Builders

Students not quite ready for Minecraft get a creative, fun alternative

Bottom line: Fun, engaging, open-ended play can work in a variety of content areas.

Minecraft: Education Edition

Stellar collaboration tools, controls make Minecraft classroom-ready

Bottom line: An excellent tool to engage students in learning, collaboration, and critical thinking is now more accessible than ever to teachers.

Minecraft

Spiraling sandbox of adventure and creation gets kids to dig deep

Bottom line: An irresistible and seemingly limitless incubator for 21st-century skills that, with a little guidance, can chart new courses for learning.

Gamestar Mechanic

Captivating manga romp teaches kids game design

Bottom line: This terrific and affordable toolset teaches kids how to design games and shows teachers how to use games to teach.

LearnToMod

Effective springboard to coding for dedicated Minecraft fans

Bottom line: For students who already know and love Minecraft, this is a valuable way to hook students into coding.

micro:bit

Code games or fun displays with mini piece of hardware

Bottom line: This versatile tool for learning how to program with blocks or text is a nice fit for STEM classes and clubs.

Autodesk Digital STEAM Applied Mechanics

Kids explore concepts in fun but sometimes frustrating mini-games

Bottom line: Autodesk Digital STEAM Applied Mechanics can be a fun -- but potentially frustrating -- way to learn about concepts.

Portal 2 Puzzle Maker

Mind-bending level editor for beloved physics game

Bottom line: For STEAM educators with the right tech and know-how, it'd be puzzling not to use this tool.

Garry's Mod

Complex physics sandbox is daunting but rich

Bottom line: This physics sandbox ramps up the complexity but not the usability, leaving it up to the right teachers and students to unlock its benefits.

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.

Get tips for using these tools in the classroom

See related resources