Top Pick

STEM Apps for Higher-Order Thinking

These seriously fun apps help students develop and apply a conceptual understanding of science, engineering, and math by solving puzzles, designing solutions to novel problems, and creating new inventions. It's important for students of all ages to engage in this type of critical thinking to prepare for college and career. Check out this list of tools that get students coding robots, engaging in game-based learning, and gathering scientific data to make better sense of our world. 

Engineering and Inventions

Crazy Gears Publisher: Seven Academy
Highly applicable STEM-themed free play; easy appeal for wide audience
Grades K-3
Type App
Price $1.99
Platforms iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating Not Yet Rated
Simple Machines Publisher: Tinybop
Excellent elementary NGSS engineering practices embedded in fun games
Grades K-5
Type App
Price 2.99
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating 4
Robot Factory Publisher: Tinybop
Improve designs, collect favorites in robot creation sandbox
Grades K-8
Type App
Price $3.99
Platforms iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating 4
Inventioneers Publisher: Filimundus AB
Budding engineers create design solutions with fun physics puzzler
Grades 2-8
Type App
Price $2.99
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, Fire phone
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating Not Yet Rated
littleBits Invent Publisher: littleBits Electronics Inc.
Top-notch tool empowers kids to invent, build, and control wirelessly
Grades 2-8
Type App
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense Rating 5
Teacher Rating 4
Trainyard Publisher: Matt Rix
Stump students with innovative train-routing puzzler
Grades 3-7
Type App
Price $.99-$2.99
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating 4
Minecraft - Pocket Edition Publisher: Mojang
World-building, resource-gathering game almost as good as PC version
Grades 3-8
Type App
Price $6.99
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, Windows Phone, Fire phone
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating 3
World of Goo Publisher: 2D BOY
Stellar physics builder with wiggly, animated goo balls
Grades 4-8
Type App
Price $2.99-$4.99
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Nook HD, Apps for Windows
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating 3
Autodesk Digital STEAM Applied Mechanics Publisher: Autodesk Inc.
Kids explore concepts in fun but sometimes frustrating mini-games
Grades 7-12
Type App
Price Free
Platforms iPad
Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating 4

Coding and Robotics

Codeable Crafts Publisher: Benesse
Animate stories with accessible drawing tools and coding blocks
Grades K-3
Type App
Price Free
Platforms Android
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating Not Yet Rated
Blockly for Dash & Dot robots Publisher: Wonder Workshop
Adorable robots teach hands-on coding skills
Grades K-5
Type App
Price Free
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating Not Yet Rated
Tickle Publisher: Tickle Labs
Robots, Arduinos, and drones -- the block coding app to rule them all
Grades 2-8
Type App
Price Free
Platforms iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating 4
SPRK Lightning Lab - Programming for Sphero Robots Publisher: Orbotix Inc.
Cool robots and creative play make programming irresistible
Grades 3-8
Type App
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, Fire phone
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating 5
Swift Playgrounds Publisher: Apple
Fun, intuitive iOS-coding app great for newbies or pros
Grades 4-12
Type App
Price Free
Platforms iPad
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating Not Yet Rated
Cargo-Bot Publisher: Two Lives Left
Challenging game helps kids learn to think like programmers
Grades 5-12
Type App
Price Free
Platforms Android, iPad
Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating 4

Science and Math

Bugs and Bubbles Publisher: Little Bit Studio, LLC.
Fascinating graphics engage as kids practice pre-reading, STEM skills
Grades Pre-K-K
Type App
Price $2.99
Platforms iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating 4
Tangram for Osmo Publisher: Tangible Play Inc
Fun hybrid puzzles with excellent classroom supports
Grades K-3
Type App
Price Free
Platforms iPad
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating 5
Playground Physics Publisher: New York Hall of Science
Fun video app lets students track motion to explore physics concepts
Grades K-10
Type App
Price Free
Platforms iPad
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating Not Yet Rated
DIY Nano Publisher: The Lawrence Hall of Science
Turn kids into budding nanoscientists who explore the tiniest things
Grades 2-5
Type App
Price Free
Platforms iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating 3
Autodesk Digital STEAM Measurement Publisher: Autodesk Inc.
Interactive, lab-like exploration of measurements is a good STEAM tool
Grades 3-12
Type App
Price Free
Platforms iPad
Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating 4
Volumize Publisher: New York Hall of Science
Approximate photos of real-world objects with virtual 3-D shapes
Grades 6-11
Type App
Price Free
Platforms iPad
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating Not Yet Rated
Lab4Physics Publisher: Lab4U Inc.
Bring physics to life using lab sensors built right into your smartphone
Grades 6-12
Type App
Price Free, Free to Try, Paid
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Common Sense Rating 5
Teacher Rating Not Yet Rated
PocketLab Publisher: Myriad Sensors
Gather and analyze live data anywhere
Grades 6-12
Type App
Price Free, Paid
Platforms Android, iPad, iPhone, Chrome, Windows Phone
Common Sense Rating 5
Teacher Rating 5