British Science Week 2017 is in full swing and the theme this year is change. Whether it’s climate change or the changing seasons, transformative new materials or energy, there are changes happening all around us, all of the time. And British Science Week is also a chance to encourage young people to consider the changes they can enact to have a positive impact on the future. This may include choosing a career in STEM – science, technology, engineering, and maths.
Getting children and young people interested in STEM can be tricky, though. The British Science Week website includes lots of resources, and this year is promoting a citizen science ‘penguin-spotting’ project. Parents can also help, and what better way for kids to learn about STEM than through a fun interactive game on a tablet, phone, or other device?
There are some great examples of apps and computer-based games to help young people explore STEM concepts while experimenting, networking with other students, and sometimes even creating products.
We’ve highlighted some of these below – hopefully teachers, and parents, will have a look, be inspired and think about using them in school or at home.
Note: Many of the apps cover multiple areas of STEM. They are listed in order of recommended age of user from youngest to oldest. The apps are described by age and subject(s): Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths. So (4+) SEM means that the app is suitable for ages four and up, and students will learn about science, engineering, and maths.
- Simple Machines by Tinybop
Students discover how simple machines work by conducting their own experiments and investigating invisible forces. Available in 40+ languages.
- Endless Numbers by Originator Inc.
For children up to the age of five – this app is designed to set the stage for early numeracy learning. Although it is technically for kids below primary school age, it can be used to help older pupils who struggle with numeracy.
- Blokify by Noquo Inc.
3D modeling software. Children can create toys that they can play with virtually, or physically via 3D printing.
- Toca Lab by Toca Boca
Children explore the ‘colourful and electrifying world of science’ and interact with all 118 elements from the periodic table.
- DoodleMaths by EZ Education
This app is designed to be used for only a few minutes daily. It identifies a child’s maths level and allows them to progress at their own pace. Teachers and parents can quickly and easily monitor a child’s progress. It’s also aligned to KS1 and KS2 National Curriculum for England and Wales.
- Tynker for Schools by Neuron Fuel
Kids learn to program and can build games, control drones, create apps, and more.
- Learn Python by SoloLearn
A social and fun way for kids (and even adults!) to learn how to write Python code.
- Tinkercad by Autodesk (Browser-based)
Pupils create 3D digital designs of toys, prototypes, home décor, jewellery and more.
- 3D Brain by Cold Springs Harbor Laboratories
Pupils discover how the brain works using a 3D brain structure. They can also learn through interactive case studies about how brain damage, mental disorders and mental illness impact the physical structure of the brain.
- Dragonbox Algebra 12+ by WeWantToKnow AS
A maths game that “levels up” based on pupil’s mastery of each concept or skill. Provides a balance between challenging children to advance their knowledge and understanding and allowing them to master concepts at their own pace.
- Molecules by Theodore Gray by Touchpress Ltd
Students explore molecular dynamics. Also includes the full text of the book Molecules by Theodore Gray.
The app is used in conjunction with corresponding robots. Students learn to program an actual, tangible robot that they can control and then reprogram using the app.
The research for this blog was originally done by April Bowman, who joined us in July 2016 for a voluntary work experience placement, while studying for a Master’s in Public Policy at the University of Stirling, where her policy specialism was education policy and teaching practice.
Read some of our other blogs on education:
- Girls need STEM role models
- The myth of the digital native? Young people, education and digital participation in Scotland
- Mindfulness in schools … does it work?
- Girls with autism – a hidden issue
- Modern language learning in a globalised world
Follow us on Twitter to see what developments in public and social policy are interesting our research team.
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