Mobile Apps in the Secondary Classroom

Need apps for the Secondary Science classroom? Take a look below!

Mobile Learning (mlearning) has evolutionized the way students learn in the classroom! By enabling independence, discovery learning and opportunity to interact with peers, mlearning is meaningful learning in the classroom. Let's explore some useful apps to help teach secondary students in the science classroom! Listen to my podcast above to hear about my own philosophy of mlearning and how it can be incorporated into the classroom!

Cat. (2010). iPhone Birthday. [flickr image]. Retrieved November 21, 2013 from http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4059/4446677663_6c8d5360b8.jpg

1. The goREACT App!
By Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

The goREACT app allows students to experiment 'chemically' through a virtual lab. Through the drag-and-drop feature, students can learn about the different elements on the Periodic Table by learning how they react with each other. The app also provides information and facts about each element of the Periodic table. Whether a student is new to the Periodic table or not, the app provides free play and guided modes to accommodate each student's learning. There is also a 'Featured Reactions' menu that provide engaging chemical reactions for students to try out. These particular reactions are related to real-life world applications such as chemicals in beauty products or chemicals used in automobiles. Either way, the chemical reactions featured can be connected to products that are used in daily life and allows students to look at the 'big picture' of chemistry.

This app can be used in a Secondary Science classroom through its ability to allow students to become virtual 'chemists' in a virtual laboratory. By giving students choice, they are able to try different things by understanding each element first on its own then reacting it with others. Through this, students in the science classroom are more engaged in learning about the organization of the Periodic table as well as are able to understand the different aspects of chemical properties. One of the greatest things about this app is the fact that it provides lots of images and videos linked to the elements. Secondary level students are able to get a real-life view of these chemicals, how they're used in the real-world and be able to "see" what they have created by dragging and dropping different elements together. Rather than the old-fashioned teacher-directed lecture style where the teacher writes up chemical equations on the board, this app re-vamps the Periodic Table to a whole new level.

iTunes. (2013). goREACT on the Apps Store. [website page]. Retrieved November 21, 2013 from https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/goreact/id64958569...

2. Powers of Minus Ten-Bone App!
by Green-Eye Visualization

Known as the 'cellular scale journey', this app provides a detailed and first hand virtual view of the human body. Powers of Minus Ten (POMT) by Laura Lynn Gonzalez, developed this app for the person to be able to zoom into the human body in terms of at different levels of magnification: tissue, cellular, molecular and subatomic. Providing these different levels allows users to be able to understand the complexity of the human yet at the same time, learn about its powerful structures and processes. The app provides a 'Lab' Feature in which users can review structure of the human body via mini-games. Winning several awards in the Apps world, this app has gained worldwide acclaim in terms of its educational features as well as a realistic perspective on the human body system.

This app can be used in higher level Biology classes in high school to provide a realistic perspective of the human body. Due to its high quality pictures, it would be a great way for students to actually experience how the human body works. If used on iPads in the class, students can work in groups to explore the human body and its structures. For exam prep, the mini-games would fit perfectly as a review to go over body structures and functions. Teachers can also have this app available for all students at any time they need to go over material. More so, this app is also great for students that are really interested in a career in healthcare. It allows students to master scientific and biology concepts without having to read from the textbook all the time. As well, this app provides a visually engaging method of explaining complex biology concepts. For example, when trying to teach the immune system, it is hard to imagine White blood cells clotting together. However, with this app, teachers can explain these processes and show that they do happen in the body.

iTunes. (2013). Powers of Minus Ten-Bones on the App Store. Retrieved November 21, 2013 from https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/powers-of-minus-te...

Here is a video below that introduces you to this amazing app!

3. Virtual Heart
By Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Get your heart pumping with this app! This app provides highly detailed virtual images of the human heart. Anatomically and physiologically, this app allows users to explore the heart from different angles & perspectives: inner, outer, posterior, superior, etc. In other words, users can experience a journey of the heart by using this app. For the educational aspect, this app provides labels with structures, different systems and anatomical parts of the heart. The app also highlights the blood stream flow as well as the electrical system of the heart for pumping blood. Lastly, users can slide their finger up and down on the screen to turn the angle in which to view the heart.

The cardiovascular and circulatory system unit is a significant part of the curriculum in high school. Not only that, it is one of the most complex units to learn. Knowing this, teachers can use this app to engage students in the virtual world of the heart. Students will be able to review the structures of the heart on the app as well as actually look at how the heart pumps blood in and out to the body. By allowing students to visualize this complex process of pumping blood, the app takes this complex topic and applies it to the real-world. In addition, this app can be used to share in projects and assignments in class. For example, if students wanted to do a project on the heart and why it is so important for the body, it would be a great idea to use this app to get the students thinking about what exactly the function of a heart does for the body. In all, this app shows that the heart is very complex, yet such a detrimental element of the human body.

iTunes. (2013). Virtual Heart on the App Store. [website page]. Retrieved November 21, 2013 from https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/virtual-heart/id5...

4. Touch Physics HD
by Gamez 4 Touch


Beat the level and beat physics! This app provides 50 fun and challenging levels for physics concepts. Fun and engaging, this app tests different laws of physics and gets the user to draw with a crayon on the screen to beat a certain level. In doing so, the user "changes the laws of physics" or tests them in order to beat the level. Of course, the levels become progressively harder as you go up but at the same time, allows the users to understand how they beat each level. Known to be "highly addicting" this physics game takes questions of physics to a whole new level.

In the science classroom, this physics game could be used to create a fun and engaging activity to do at home for "homework." Teachers can get students to complete the game up to level 20 for homework. Because it is a highly addictive and fun game, students will not even realize that they are learning and having to apply certain laws of physics. On the next day, teacher and students can discuss how they came to beat each level and input theory into each step. This activity is quite different than the traditional class where the teacher stands at the whiteboard solving different physics problems. Rather, the app allows students to enjoy physics and be engaged in their learning. In addition, every time a student beats a level, the teacher can question why and how they did so. The subject of physics can sound dry, boring and complex. However, with this app, students can get students excited to learn and try new things with the "laws of physics" in this game. They are the scientists to try different techniques to try and defy the laws or abide by the laws.

iTunes. (2010). Touch Physics HD on the App Store. [website page]. Retrieved November 21, 2013 from https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/touch-physics-hd/...

Look at the video below to check out TouchPhysics!

5. Science Glossary
by Visionlearning, Inc.

The Science Glossary App is "an award-winning, free digital resource for teaching and learning science." Divided into eight different categories of science topics, this app allows users to find their area of inquiry. The Glossary itself provides an alphabetical section as well as a "by discipline" section in which students can look up scientists, terms, concepts and basic terms related to science. This app provides a "scientific" definition versus a generic neutral definition that does not specify to the students' needs. The "library" feature provides a collection of peer-reviewed learning materials by outside sources of professionals. In addition, the app provides the "classroom" feature in which users can specify which level of study they are at and create their own account.

This app is a great resource for all science teachers to have in their technological hard drive! Through the "classroom" feature, teachers can customize what they want to teach to their students by bookmarking favourite modules and terms. Instead of writing these out simply on the board, teachers can share this app with their students when finding certain definitions. In addition, when a teacher is explaining a concept and the students do not understand a certain word, teachers can create a class where students look it up themselves and share the definition with the class. It allows students to work as a team to find the definition and discuss it with their peers. Outside of the classroom, the app runs as a great tool for reviewing terms for unit tests and projects. In doing so, it saves instruction time for the teacher by not having students always asking for the definition of a term. Overall, the app is great because it divides the glossary terms into specific science categories. This helps teachers compartmentalize concepts for students and help them in terms of organizing notes.

iTunes. (2012). Science Glossary on the App Store. [website page]. Retrieved November 21, 2013 from https://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/science-glossary/...

6. 3D Brain
by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Wanting to get "smarter" with this app? The 3D Brain App provides 29 interactive structures on a virtual brain that can be rotated in 3D space. In addition, the app provides significant detail on brain structures and its functions. The app also provides information on case studies on brain damage, brain disorders and modern research. Users are able access these case studies on real life occurrences of brain damage and exactly what area of the brain was affected. The app also introduces the users to many researchers and organizations that study the brain currently around the world today. This app has been downloaded more than 1 million times and great for any biology or psychology class.

In terms of its use in the secondary science classroom, the brain is a huge organ that is discussed at every level of science. In Grade 12 specifically, students learn about the specific lobes and functions of the brain. Since the brain is such a complex topic, this app gives some great insight into the world of the brain and its mysteriousness. It can also provide students with links to new tools and resources to find out more about the brain. Teachers can also connect this app to real-world situations with car accidents that have caused brain damage. Students can explore different case studies and create their own project investigating that particular case study. Since this is a 3D virtual brain app, teachers can leave this app on in the SmartBoard and allow students to access it during class time. Students can go through the 29 interactive structures to gain understanding, review concepts and provide a mental image for them when learning about electrical impulses and synapses in the brain.

iTunes. (2013). 3D Brain on the App Store. [website page]. Retrieved November 21, 2013 from https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/3d-brain/id331399...

7. 3D sun
by Dr. Tony Phillips, LLC


The "Interplanetary 3D Sun" app is more of a supplementary app for secondary students who are interested in learning more about the sun or even in the subject of astronomy. With the app itself, its data comes from several NASA spacecraft that surrounds the sun: the twin STEREO probes and the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Although the app online is stated to be recommended for serious solar physicists, the app still provides great quality ultraviolet images of the sun. In addition, the app provides detailed information on "solar tsunamis," and eruptions around the sun. Oh, and guess what? The app provides phone notifications every time a solar flare occurs!

Within the secondary science classroom, this app could be used in two main ways. First of all, it can be used as an anticipatory set to engage students in checking out a real live picture of the sun. Especially if students are not interested in the topic, the app can at least relate to the students because they wake up to the sun every morning. More so, since humans cannot look at the sun directly, this app allows students to clearly see what the sun looks like in space. Secondly, the app can also be used for students that are truly interested in the topic and want to learn more about it. If the app is too complex for students in the classroom, the app can be reserved for students who are keen and passionate about astronomy. Lastly, the app can also keep the teacher up to date on the current status of the sun. In doing so, teachers can start off the space unit by stating the current conditions of the sun at the beginning of every class. To make it even more interesting, teachers can assign students to check the app themselves and have a volunteer state the conditions. Teachers can also use this app as a supplementary resource/tool for students to use in science projects and assignments.

iTunes. (2012). 3D Sun on the App Store. [website page]. Retrieved November 21, 2013 from https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/3d-sun/id34708907...

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