Mobility of Fun and Learning
Fun and learning - a combination thought all too rare these days by most participants in our K-12 education system.
Mobile apps, however, are a unique bridge, as they enter into the private world of students. By entering their world, we can demonstrate how learning actually can be fun.
Here are some android apps that are designed to blend the two!
This app ranges between amazing and brilliant for late elementary and junior high students in a science class, learning about the stars and our solar system.
It tracks your location and the direction you're looking, and lets you see, through the screen, the brilliant majesty of the starry sky - day or night!
It tracks constellations, showing you the artistic images behind the connecting lines. It shows you the positions of the planets in our solar system, down to what part of the planet is facing the sun.
Best part of all - it's free! There are in-app purchases that add extra features, such as tracking predicted meteor showers, but the core functionality of the system leaves little to be desired.
Sudoku is a well known logic game played by millions of people worldwide, and there's nearly countless apps available to play it. However, MathDoku is an interesting variant, with a customizable difficulty level, far improved over sudoku's.
The critical difference is that MathDoku, unlike sudoku, doesn't give hints in the form of a partially completed puzzle. Rather, it gives hints in the forms of mathematical expressions.
While it would be useful in late elementary and junior high for new learning, it would also be useful in high school, as a form of solidifying fundamental concepts. Many high school students find math frustrating and challenging - this app, should it capture their interest, can make the fundamentals of math wired in their brains as an easily retrieved foundation.
It's also surprisingly addictive.
Play with atoms! It's a rare opportunity, considering the fact that the average human hair is about 300,000 atoms thick.
But because technology is awesome, the fundamental building blocks of the universe are now our toys!
The critical point here, for education, is the fact that a simulator of this sort takes math - lots and lots of mind-breakingly complicated math - and turns it into what our brains are actually designed for. It becomes visual and kinesthetic. It becomes almost tangible. You can see how the particles conserve kinetic energy, how its transferred, how they move in their strange little quantum reality.
It takes the nearly incomprehensible universe hidden in the depths of everything we see and touch, and makes it seem... well, real.
Hard to beat that.
Who wants to inflict a massive brain injury and see what happens?
Wait, that's a terrible question.
Still... it's an interesting one! This app allows you to play with the human brain like a true mad scientist. Maniacal laughter not included.
What is included is lots of information and links to cutting edge research done by actual (hopefully not mad) scientists worldwide. A touch screen lets you rotate and examine the brain from all angles, and a number of options let you find out what unfortunate - but interesting - people have helped scientists discover about how the brain works when it's not really working.
This app has enormous potential in a high school biology classroom, as it takes biological realities and makes them relevant in an interesting and informative way. It lets students explore aspects of their own most sacred part of their selves and maybe, just maybe, understand themselves just a little bit more.
What finer expression of creativity is there, above creation itself? The Sandbox is MineCraft-esque, but unlike its more expensive, though wildly popular counterpart, The Sandbox is free to play, and is much more puzzle oriented.
In The Sandbox, a player can create entire worlds, and even make their own platformer game. Options range from playing with special effects, like lasers, to geysers of lava.
As a direct education component, it would prove difficult for all but art classes. However, as an addition to a list of options, its true value begins to emerge.
Some will spurn such an app.
Some, however, will embrace it with delight and adoration.
For those students, being able to do and present their class work in such a format that they can actually, truly enjoy, would be a delight rarely experienced, and one that could stick in their minds for the rest of their lives.
The Fun is Just Beginning
Fact of the matter is, learning and fun are truly a match made in heaven. When joy and passion
are blended with a sense of purpose and achievement, great and wonderful
things can happen.
I think we're all looking forward to seeing
what the future holds.