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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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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Outdated site still useful for science games and investigations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.

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 and extensive set of math and science tools puts the learning in students' hands.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Zooniverse

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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 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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