Common Sense

TOP PICKS | 35 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 transferrable skills, and make cool, useful stuff. 

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Advance Scientific Practices

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.

DIY Nano

Turn kids into budding nanoscientists who explore the tiniest things

Bottom line: Scientist-reviewed videos and activities relate nanoscience to everyday life.

Autodesk Digital STEAM Measurement

Interactive, lab-like exploration of measurements is a good STEAM tool

Bottom line: Autodesk Digital Steam Measurement can be a valuable tool for exploring measurement and data.

Algodoo

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.

Science Buddies

A magic wand for those seeking science project support and success

Bottom line: Take the jitters out of science or engineering projects and fairs; this remarkable site coaches and supports students, parents, and teachers.

Exploratorium

Science experiments and activities abound in this comprehensive resource

Bottom line: A host of mostly at-home activities are available if kids stick to the Explore tab of online resources.

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.

Science Journal

Turn your Android 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 Android phones.

Be A Maker

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.

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.

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.

DIY App - Creative Community for Kids

From cardboarding to cooking, this app helps kids find the fun in DIY

Bottom line: Fabulous way for kids to get skills and share their projects digitally.

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.

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.

Make: Online

Fuel creative makers with project ideas, reviews, and community

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

Build Engineering Skills

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.

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.

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.

Autodesk Digital STEAM Visual Design

Cool tool helps teach principles and elements of design in 3-D

Bottom line: Autodesk Digital STEAM Visual Design can be a good tool for individual, self-directed learning.

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.

Tinkercad

Amazingly simple yet powerful and flexible online CAD tool

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

Codecademy

Terrific hands-on coding practice with live feedback

Bottom line: In this excellent coding application, in-game practice and real-time guidance crack open the world of programming and turn your students into whiz kids.

Create and Play Games

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.

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.

LittleBigPlanet 2

Accessible yet deep game creator will dazzle and challenge

Bottom line: A deeply charming experience for teachers and students interested in pushing boundaries, making things, and participating in a healthy community focused on boundless creativity.

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.

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.

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