Journey from the Cell to a Human

Mobile Apps for the Biologically Enthused

Biology, while it may seem daunting to some, can be surprisingly easy to understand and comprehend when one simply visualizes the concepts. However, not everyone can easily see objects in three-dimensions, let alone interact with said visualizations. But don't worry, there's an app (or several) for that. Just see below!

The following apps are primarily suitable for high school biology students, grades 10-12, but could be used for other grades as well.

App 1: Molecules

What is it?

Molecule is an application that was created to visualize three-dimensional depictions of molecules. These include Deoxyribonucleic acid, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and other compounds (like caffeine). Using this app, one is able to interact with and observe molecules in a whole new way.

How can it be used?

There are several ways this app can be utilized in the classroom. It would be a fantastic supplement for students when there are learning about complex molecules, such as DNA, where in the students are able to actually "see" just what the molecules look like. Perhaps the student is not understanding how the phosphate binds to the sugar group, they just don't seem to grasp what is going on. With this app, the student would be able to observe what it looks like, and manipulate the image to see it in all dimensions. What's even better is that Molecules can be used in other subject areas as well, such as chemistry or physics, so we aren't bound to one subject.

Cost?

Free!

More Information?

Check out this great review of Molecules; see first hand what you can do with the app.

App 2: 3D Cell Simulation and Stain Tool

What is it?

3D Cell Simulation and Stain Tool is an app that allows the user to learn about the cell and all of its structures. The app also allows one to learn more about the function of and relationship between structures. Furthermore, there is also the added option of being able to stain your own cell image, allowing for customizable and personalized learning.

How can it be used?

This app could be used as an assessment tool for teachers. Students would need to explain certain processes (how does X get to Y) but would be able to use the app and the models as references. In this way, the student would not have access to any labels or excess information, but simply the ability to use visual cues as guides. This could reduce some learning barriers for those students who may not be able to explain what they know as easily. Furthermore, the stain tool in this app could be used for an assignment where the students must stain a certain part of the cell and then label these parts accordingly. The staining would provide colour coordination and the labeling would provide a further learning opportunity.

Cost?

Free!

More Information?

If you want to know more, and to get a better glimpse into this app, watch the following tutorial video on how to use 3D Cell Simulation and Stain Tool.

App 3: 3D Digestive Anatomy

What is it?

3D Digestive Anatomy is an app that allows for the exploration of the human digestive tract. It doesn't just stop here though, there is a dissectible model of the stomach, liver, pancreas, and gall bladder, as well as the ability to draw over and highlight sections of the images. The app also provides the opportunity to quiz yourself about the digestive tract for instant feedback.

How can it be used?

In biology class, while studying the digestive system, there is rarely the opportunity to perform a dissection on a stomach, liver, pancreas, or gall bladder but with this app, students would be able to. This would provide "first hand" knowledge and experience with these organs that the students could then use to enhance their learning. Students studying the digestive system could also use the app to help with creating a more creative piece of work (like a poem or song) that uses the different parts/names and tells of how digestions occurs. When there is an opportunity to include creativity in science, one should always take it, as the learning can be quite beneficial. An example of this sort can be found just below.

Cost?

$9.99

More Information?

With apps like 3D Digestive Anatomy, students will have the opportunity to attain greater knowledge in this subject. Some may even be able to create projects like the one below!

App 4: 3D Heart & Circulatory

What is it?

3D Heart and Circulatory is much more than diagrams of the human heart and circulatory system. It offers many ways to learn, review, or teach. Aside from the amazing anatomical models, there are interactive presentations, quizzes to test ones knowledge, animations and illustrations. The app allows the user to immerse themselves in information, definitions, and examples all relating to the heart and circulatory system.

How can it be used?

With this app, students would be able to perform "dissections" on a digital human heart instead of with a real, and messy, non-human heart. This would also benefit students who may not be able to handle dissections, or may not wish to perform dissections. The use of this app would then reduce these barriers and provide everyone with equitable experience with the heart and circulatory system. There is also the opportunity to have students teach the class certain sections of the heart and circulatory system as an alternative to a typical lesson, while using the 3D Heart and Circulatory app as supporting material.

Cost?

$19.99, but what you get out of the app makes the spending worth it.

More Information?

The following video truly shows exactly what this app can do, and shows how easy it is!

App 5: 3D Brain

What is it?

3D Brain is an app that allows for interaction and learning about the brain. There are 29 interactive structures available for the user to explore. Information about specific regions of the brain and their function is included in this app. The user is also able to discover what happens if a certain region gets injured and how the different areas are involved with mental illness. To top it all off, there are even links to modern research so the user can be up-to-date.

How can it be used?

Aside from the relatively simple use of visualizing the brain and all of the specific regions, this app has many uses in education. The app could be used in conjunction for a project/assignment where the students must research a certain area of the brain and describe what it's main function is, what mental illnesses are possibly associated with this region, what happens if it is injured, etc. Students could then present their project to the class or teacher while using the app as further supplement to the presentation. Support like this would be more valuable than a simple powerpoint presentation as it provides a certain degree of interaction.

Cost?

Free!

More Information?

This very short video gives a glimpse into what this app can do, which is quite a lot.

!!Bonus Apps!!

The rest of these apps are also quite valuable with what they could potentially bring to the biological table. Some work as supplements to lessons, while others offer a more complete learning style that will give your students an alternative lesson style. They range in price from $0.00 to $18.99.

Cell Defense: The Plasma Membrane

Gene Screen

Monster Anatomy: Upper Limb

Monster Anatomy: Lower Limb

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