TOP PICKS | 36 TOOLS

Top Picks for Connecting the Classroom and Real World

It's a no-brainer that students are more engaged in learning when real-world problems and scenarios support what they're doing in school. When students see the connection between what's inside and what's outside their classroom, they see that there's more at stake in learning than a report card. These picks build bridges beyond the classroom by connecting content with careers, giving opportunities to join local and worldwide communities, showing everyday applications of learning, and getting students doing authentic activities that have real impact.

Community Engagement

Learning for Justice

Thought-provoking classroom resources support diversity education

Bottom Line: It's an invaluable teacher tool to help reduce prejudice and encourage tolerance in schools, as well as within society as a whole.

Grades: K–12
Price:
Free

Statistics in Schools

Interactive data, practical plans bring the Census to the classroom

Bottom Line: Engaging and authentic material connects the U.S. Census to many subject areas.

Grades: K–12
Price:
Free

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

GooseChase EDU

Digital scavenger hunts provide dynamic, fresh learning experiences

Bottom Line: Students and teachers will enjoy the powerful learning of a modern scavenger hunt.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Free, Paid

SDGs in Action

Empowering sustainable development app organizes, educates

Bottom Line: It's a well-packaged way for teachers to educate students about the current challenges facing the world and to give them a conduit for social justice.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Free

Project Noah

Engaging online community for relevant, hands-on science fieldwork

Bottom Line: Project Noah is a free and easy way to take part in biodiversity research with the support of a knowledgeable and global community.

Grades: 4–12
Price:
Free

iCivics

Well-designed games, lessons can spice up your civics curriculum

Bottom Line: This game-based curriculum would be an excellent addition to any secondary social studies.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

Fandom Forward

Fan site promotes real-world heroics with activism for social justice

Bottom Line: A smart, fun, and accessible way for people of all ages to better engage with critical social issues and take meaningful action as a result.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Free

Siftr

Collect images in the field with simple, collaborative app

Bottom Line: An easy way to crowdsource location-based data.

Grades: 9–12
Price:
Free

Career Exploration

Khan Academy

Flexible learning environment offers a personalized journey to mastery

Bottom Line: A solid, free resource for targeted math and science instruction, test prep, history, and more.

Grades: 2–12
Price:
Free

Edheads

Realistic, appealing simulations deliver superb science content

Bottom Line: Definitely one for your “love it” list, the site helps kids simulate science and engineering career activities while covering related content.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Free

Spark 101

Interactive STEM career site gets students solving real-world problems

Bottom Line: Using videos by leading STEM companies, Spark 101 connects students with possible future career paths through critical thinking and class-wide problem-solving.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 4–12
Price:
Free

Engineer Girl

Female engineers give girls career advice on this visually appealing site

Bottom Line: Empowering tool encourages girls to explore engineering but is mostly static and best-suited for choosing courses and looking at colleges.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

Couragion

Individualized STEM career exploration targets students' values

Bottom Line: Students identify career values and use them to evaluate STEM options.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Paid

C'reer

Free app helps kids refine career search, connect to universities

Bottom Line: For students who are unsure where to begin, this app helps jump-start the college and career application process.

Grades: 8–12
Price:
Free

Design and Creation

Makers Empire

Stellar 3D design hub promotes innovation, collaboration, and creation

Bottom Line: This is a great design and creation tool that teachers and students can use to be innovative and share ideas with a vibrant community of makers.

Grades: K–8
Price:
Free, Free to try

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

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.

Grades: 3–8
Price:
Free to try

MAD-learn

Create mobile apps with extensive help from start to finish

Bottom Line: Intuitive platform encourages students to engage in design thinking and coding with loads of support.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Paid

Stencyl

Code-free game development tool helps kids program and publish

Bottom Line: It ups the sophistication of building block coding by connecting student work to major publishing platforms.

Grades: 5–12
Price:
Free, Paid

Appinventor.org

Great, free mobile app creation site has solid teacher resources

Bottom Line: A fantastic and complete introduction to programming concepts and app creation.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

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

Anchor

Podcasting app is super easy to use, if you can do it all in one take

Bottom Line: There are few easier ways to publish a podcast, but that ease of use comes at the cost of one-take creation and few tools for post-production.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Free

Google Applied Digital Skills

Practical PBL lessons teach critical computer skills

Bottom Line: Thorough digital literacy curriculum offers mix-and-match options to fit any classroom.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Free

STEM Learning

Defined Learning

Stellar collection of STEM resources supports project-based learning

Bottom Line: Excellent, well-thought-out resources for developing problem-solving skills in the classroom.

Grades: K–12
Price:
Free to try, Paid

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

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

Machine Learning for Kids

Authentic AI-powered projects make kids' creations feel like magic

Bottom Line: It takes a topic that would be difficult to teach in any practical way and makes it accessible for the classroom.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

Mathalicious

Toughest palates can't resist appetizing look at real-world math

Bottom Line: Easy-to-deliver lessons use real-world topics tweens like.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
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

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

Get the Math

Solve real-life algebra problems with diverse crew, delightful video

Bottom Line: Proof that algebra is used to solve real problems in kid-approved professions: basketball, music, gaming, and fashion.

Grades: 7–10
Price:
Free

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

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