Common Sense


Top Apps, Games, and Websites for Scientific Inquiry

These tools offer students the techniques to design their own "scientific method" through inquiry-based learning: making observations, asking questions, gathering data, uncovering answers, revising their thinking, and asking new questions. Use these tools to harness students' natural curiosity and inspire them to think critically and creatively as they make sense of the scientific phenomena around them.

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Top Picks


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Explore Models and Simulations

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.

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.

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.


Virtual labs epitomize the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices

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

Happy Atoms

Build molecules with physical models, explore with your device

Bottom line: Empower students to learn about molecules -- built with physical models -- using the camera on a hand-held device.

Collisions: Play Chemistry

Game-based challenges build crucial chemistry concepts

Bottom line: Learn about atoms, ions, and bonding through challenge-based gameplay.

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.

Gather and Analyze Data

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.

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.

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.


Real research powered by volunteers makes classroom content relevant

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

Zydeco Inquiry

Record and organize scientific observations on the go

Bottom line: Record, organize, and explain observations from everyday experiences with your mobile device.


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.


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.

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.

Solve the Outbreak

Become a disease detective -- read clues, analyze data, save lives

Bottom line: Solve the Outbreak is a free, engaging resource that teaches kids about disease control and prevention.

Make and Design Projects

California Academy of Sciences

Expert research and diverse, rich lessons inspire future scientists

Bottom line: A perfect companion to (or substitute for) the Academy, this site delivers highly interactive resources and research with a lot of depth.

DIY Nano

Turn kids into budding nanoscientists who explore the tiniest things

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

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.

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 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.

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.

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