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Top Apps, Games, and Websites for Scientific Inquiry

Discovery driven by genuine curiosity is powerful. And when we can facilitate that for students in context as they make connections, it can lead to deep learning experiences. Scientific inquiry is just one example of this kind of learning, and it can be helpful to have resources that that help guide students through the process.  These tools offer students the techniques to design their own "scientific method" through inquiry-based learning: asking questions, making observations, 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.

Explore Models and Simulations

Lawrence Hall of Science: 24/7 Science

Outdated site still useful for science games and investigations

Bottom Line: Many of these interesting and highly educational activities, though a bit disorganized, still challenge and engage kids in important ways.

Grades: K–5
Price:
Free

PhET Interactive Simulations

Massive collection 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.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Free

Gizmos

Vast array of impressive, interactive science and math simulations

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

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Free to try

Inq-ITS

Virtual labs epitomize the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices

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

Grades: 5–10
Price:
Free to try, Paid

Tyto Online

Ambitious science role-playing game has bright future

Bottom Line: Diverse characters, immersive experiences, and useful teacher tools make this life science RPG worth checking out.

Grades: 6–8
Price:
Free to try, Paid

UL Xplorlabs

Safety engineering site blends in-class experiments with online sims

Bottom Line: Middle school students get to design and test solutions to actual safety problems.

Grades: 6–8
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free, Paid

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.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free to try, Paid

Collisions: Play Chemistry

Game-based challenges build crucial chemistry concepts

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

Grades: 9–12
Price:
Free to try, Paid

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.

Grades: 9–12
Price:
Free to try, Paid

Gather and Analyze Data

Hero Elementary: Operation Investigation

Learn science basics solo or in groups by figuring out mystery animals

Bottom Line: This game makes practicing reasoning skills and scientific observation fun -- and collaborative

Grades: Pre-K–2
Price:
Free

Photo Stuff with Ruff

Materials science photo app gets kids examining their surroundings

Bottom Line: Perfect for physical science lessons in classrooms with handheld devices, but the app needs an update to prevent crashing.

Grades: K–3
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: K–10
Price:
Free

LabCamera

Easy observation and measuring tool fun to use, has endless possibilities

Bottom Line: Using this science capturing and measuring tool is an easy, flexible way to expand your toolset and your science lesson options.

Grades: 1–12
Price:
Free to try

Zooniverse

Real research powered by volunteers makes classroom content relevant

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

Grades: 2–12
Price:
Free

Mission to the Mesozoic

Time-traveling game gets kids documenting, analyzing prehistoric life

Bottom Line: This game could fit right in with a unit or lesson on prehistoric plants and animals, but the concepts covered also match well with more general science learning.

Grades: 3–6
Price:
Free

Zydeco Inquiry

Record and organize scientific observations on the go

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

Grades: 3–8
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 4–12
Price:
Free, Paid

uHandy

Microscope attachment for mobile devices inspires field investigation

Bottom Line: The use of stickers instead of slides helps students examine their world at the microscopic level with safety and convenience.

Grades: 4–12
Price:
Free, Paid

EarthViewer

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.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

Lab4Physics

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.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free, Paid

Arduino Science Journal

Turn your phone 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 phones.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

Scoutlier

Collect and share class data, pictures, and videos

Bottom Line: Works within Google Classroom to help kids record and share observations of the world around them.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

The PocketLab

Gather and analyze live data anywhere

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

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free, Paid

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.

Grades: 8–12
Price:
Free

Make and Design Projects

Kide Science

Storytelling plus creative lesson plans make STEAM concepts come alive

Bottom Line: This wonderful collection offers lots of neat offline activities that'll delight students and shape their thinking skills.

Grades: Pre-K–2
Price:
Free, Paid

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.

Grades: K–12
Price:
Free, Paid

Jet Propulsion Laboratory

STEM lessons creatively build off of NASA data and real space missions

Bottom Line: These hands-on lessons approximate the work of NASA scientists, engineers, and astronauts and make use of actual NASA satellite data.

Grades: K–12
Price:
Free

OK Go Sandbox

Creative music video-inspired STEAM design challenges

Bottom Line: After watching OK Go music videos, kids will be excited to make new creations by integrating art, science, and math.

Grades: 1–12
Price:
Free

DIY Nano

Turn kids into budding nanoscientists who explore the tiniest things

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

Grades: 2–5
Price:
Free

Gizmos & Gadgets

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.

Grades: 2–8
Price:
Free, Paid

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.

Grades: 3–8
Price:
Free

DIY.org – Creative Challenges

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.

Grades: 3–8
Price:
Free to try

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.

Grades: 4–12
Price:
Free

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