Five eco-friendly mobile apps for studying environmental science

Dec 10, 2014
Tech

Environmental science covers many exciting and equally important academic fields. It has the potential to replace earth science at the high school level, digging into the benefits of hands-on scientific discovery. These five mobile apps look at geology, ecology, the environment, chemistry and other sciences.

Environmental science covers many exciting and equally important academic fields. It has the potential to replace earth science at the high school level, digging into the benefits of hands-on scientific discovery. These five mobile apps look at geology, ecology, the environment, chemistry and other sciences.

EarthViewer (iOS Android, Free)

EarthViewer appears to be a knock-off of the all-knowing Google Earth. At second glance, the iPad app adds much nuance into the exercise of examining the entire planet’s history during three topography-rich timelines: Modern, Deep History, and Phanerozoic. With this interactive Earth students can highlight major events: Geological, Biological, Impact, Mass Extinctions, Cities, and Fossil sites. To learn about each specific event, tap on its icon. When viewing the in-app charts, students can easily toggle between average temperature, levels of carbon dioxide or oxygen, day length, luminosity, and biodiversity. EarthViewer includes a classroom-use guide for teachers and an extensive References page that cites articles and textbook excerpts.

Ecology by KIDS DISCOVER (iOS, $3.99)

Are you looking for an ad-free iPad app engrossed in the basics of ecology? KIDS DISCOVER, the developers behind several interactive apps tackling ancient cultures to galaxies to cell structures, created their Ecology app to help elementary through middle schoolers see the bigger environmental picture. The app features information and videos on food chains and webs, biomes, life cycles, and profiles on ecologists. Ecology has a top-notch user interface and enough interactive features–like quizzes, games, and 3D models–to engage young learners for extended periods of playtime.

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iPollute (iOS $2.99, Android $1.13)

iPollute, an amusing game from developer Bulkypix, employs stop motion and claymation to demonstrate how human beings negatively and positively impact nature. Players take over a valley, earning Greencoins and unearthing hidden stars along the way, and have the power to either sustain the ecosystem’s greenness or transform it into a barren wasteland overflowing with pollution. iPollute is wildly unique in gameplay and presentation, earning honorable mention at the 2014 Game Developers Conference for the Best in Play category. Aside from its entertainment value iPollute opens up communication between children and adults, whether in classrooms or at home, about the environment.

iBiome-Wetland (iOS $2.99)

Similar to iPollute in terms of focus, Springbay Studio’s iBiome – Wetland iPad app dives into the animal and plant life specific to marshes and swamps. The app’s hand-drawn animations will dazzle as students attempt to build and maintain the ecological balance of their bio domes. They can examine various wetland species, from birds to reptiles, and further their comprehension of food webs. The app does not support advertisements nor requires personal data, as the developers are highly concerned with child safety. While Professor Bio is not the most imaginatively named cartoon guide, iBiome is very informative for elementary level students.

Bill Nye The Science Guy (iOS Free)

By now, everybody should know Bill Nye The Science Guy as a prominent edutainer and debater. The mobile app, which covers a wide range of science topics, gives students access to Bill Nye’s desk including DIY experiments (located in the digital color-tabbed book) that can be done at home or in class. These six experiments focus on carbon dioxide, atmospheric pressure, and more. Tapping on the television leads students to video clips covering earthquakes, chemical reactions, and magnetism, to name a few. A warning to parents tapping the buy button next to videos leads to the full episodes, which cost close to $30 each.

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Stephen Danos

Stephen Danos is the Associate Editor for appoLearning.com, AndroidApps.com, and Appolicious. He has contributed to articles published on TechCrunchThe Chicago Sun TimesThe Chicago Tribune, and elsewhere.

He received his BA in English from the University of Iowa and MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago. He is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Playhouse State (H_NGM_N Books, 2012) and Gravitational (The New Megaphone, forthcoming).

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