19 Free Science Apps for Students and Kids

NASA Visualization Explorer iPad app, courtesy of NASA Goddard, under Creative Commons license.
NASA Visualization Explorer iPad app, courtesy of NASA Goddard, under Creative Commons license. | Source

These apps provide a unique way to learn science anywhere

These 19 free science apps for iPad, iPhone, and Android devices provide new tools for kids and students to learn about and explore the physical world - stars, subatomic particles, animals, cells, elements - even the principles of physics.

Who would have imagined even 5 years ago that one day soon, you could point your smartphone at the night sky and ask it to tell you the name of a star? And that this small device would not only tell you its name, but also what galaxy it belongs to, when it was discovered, and how far it is from Earth?

Or that with a smartphone, your child in first grade, a high school senior, and the neighbors across town and around the world would all take part in a project to identify and catalog wildlife?

This is where the brave new world of apps is taking us, and this list of popular free science apps is just the beginning.

Where to Get These Science Apps

ASTRONOMY APPS

Solar system and space exploration

Sky Map app for Android
Sky Map app for Android

Sky Map app

for Android devices

Smartphones provide unique opportunities for kids to explore their world, and no app shows this more than Sky Map. With this "window on the night sky," your child has an astronomer at his fingertips. Point your phone at the night sky filled with planets, stars, and constellations to learn their names and facts about them. The app uses your device's GPS to identify stars and planets.

Want to know where a star, planet or constellation is located? Type in the name, and your smartphone will direct your child to that object.

Planets app for iPhone, iPad
Planets app for iPhone, iPad

Planets app

for iPad, iPhone

Planets, from Q Continuum, is very similar to Sky Map. The planets have more of a 3D feel. As with Sky Map, kids and adults alike are awestruck by being able to point their device toward the stars and immediately identify constellations and planets. The built-in compass helps you orient yourself quickly.

Kids will enjoy the planetarium view of the sky as well to get the "big picture". Another feature shows you what times the various planets will be visible in your slice of sky.

How to Use the Planets app

More Help in Finding Free Apps - if you have a Kindle

Top 300 Free Apps for the Kindle Fire: The complete guide to the best free Kindle apps
Top 300 Free Apps for the Kindle Fire: The complete guide to the best free Kindle apps

This is a great list of free apps of all kinds. And if you're an Amazon Prime customer, you can borrow it for free. Even better!

 

ANIMAL APPS

Learn all about Earth's fauna. Record and identify your animal and dinosaur artifact observations.

Project Noah app for Android
Project Noah app for Android

Project Noah app

for iPhone, iPad, Android devices

Project Noah (My Noah) app for Android devices and Project Noah (My Noah) app for iPhone, iPad put you child or student out in nature to share in a global cataloging of the world's wildlife. First, register at the Project Noah website. Then your kids sign up for missions to find wildlife in your local natural habitats.

When you child has a spotting, she takes a picture, includes the name of the animal or insect and posts it to project Noah. Using the app, kids manage all their spottings, see what missions they're participating in and keep track of their patches - prizes for participating in the project. Then they can go back to the Project Noah website to see the "big picture" of wildlife spotted around the world.

Like the astronomy apps, this is a great use of mobile technology for kids learning science. Project Noah is a valuable resource for teachers and homeschooling parents looking to create student field projects.

Creating Project Noah Missions for your Class

Animal Hive app for iPhone, iPad
Animal Hive app for iPhone, iPad

Animal Hive app

for iPhone, iPad

Kids ages 3-7 will love the Animal Hive app. The engaging game helps them learn animal names in English and Spanish, along with the sounds they make. Animals are shown in four habitats - farm, forest, Arctic, and Savanna.

Dinosaurs: American Museum of Natural History app for iPhone, iPad
Dinosaurs: American Museum of Natural History app for iPhone, iPad

Dinosaurs app

for iPhone, iPad

It's hard to find a young boy who doesn't love dinasours. The Dinosaurs app gives them and the rest of us dino fanatics the opportunity to peek into the dinosaur collection at the American Museum of Natural History.

This app has a mosaic of more than 1000 images from the Museum's archive, woven together in the image of a Tyrannosaurus rex. Click on a photograph to learn where the fossil was found and the paleontologist who uncovered it. Your kids can share their favorite photos with friends on this virtual dinosaur dig.

BIOLOGY APPS

Learn about cells, human, and plant biology.

Mitosis app for iPad, iPhone
Mitosis app for iPad, iPhone

Mitosis app

for iPad, iPhone

The Mitosis app gives you a guided tour of the process of cell division, explaining each step. It includes images of actual cells dividing under a microscope where you get to see the what the simulated structures look like in real life.

There is some video content available with a wifi connection, as well text-accompanied audio explanations. At the end, you can take an interactive quiz to check your understanding of the process.

Great for middle school, high school and college biology students.

iCell app for iPhone, iPad
iCell app for iPhone, iPad

iCell app

for iPhone, iPad

iCell gives a 3D view inside a cell. There are examples of animal, plant, and bacteria cells. Learn about the various parts of the cell, and use touch technology to zoom in on the cell or a particular organelle and rotate it to see it from all angles. Organelles are labeled with a name and short description of its function in the cell.

Another great app for biology students.

Human Anatomy Free app for iPhone, iPad
Human Anatomy Free app for iPhone, iPad

Human Anatomy app

iPhone, iPad

Learn the basics of major body systems with the Human Body app. Labeled diagrams display the skeletal, muscular, digestive, nervous, endocrine and reproductive systems as a study tool and reference.

Tap on a body part to learn more about it's function. Then go to the quiz section to label body parts.

Visual Anatomy Free app for Android
Visual Anatomy Free app for Android

Visual Anatomy Free app

for Android devices

With features similar to the Human Anatomy app described above, Visual Anatomy Free provides information on the body region, muscular system (anterior and posterior), skeletal system, circulation system, respiratory system, digestive system, urinary system, nervous system, female reproductive system, ear structure, nasal cavity, and eye.

It also has a quizzing function.

CHEMISTRY APPS

Learn your elements, chemical properties, and reactions.

Periodic Table app for Android
Periodic Table app for Android

Periodic Table app

for Android devices

With the Periodic Table app, students can use as a reference and to study the elements. There is a pronunciation feature for each element that students find especially useful.

* In Learn mode, a random element appears for you to study, displaying its properties and a link to its Wikipedia entry.

* In Table mode, you can view the entire table and click on element groups. Works in portrait and landscape modes.

* In Lookup mode, type in the element name to get info on its properties and the Wikipedia link.

* In Quiz mode, select from four types of quizzes - name, abbreviation, atomic number, and random.

* In More Apps mode, you'll see other apps offered by Socratica.

iElements app for iPhone, iPad
iElements app for iPhone, iPad

iElements app

for iPhone, iPad

iElements is a color-grouped periodic table of elements that is a useful reference for chemistry students. There are descriptions and illustrations for each element that include more than two dozen properties including: Group and standard atomic weight, Electron weight, Phase, Density, Melting and Boiling points, Oxidation states. and Crystal structure among many others.

Molecules app for iPhone, Ipad
Molecules app for iPhone, Ipad

Molecules app

for iPhone, iPad

The Molecules app gives kids and students a 3-D view of molecules they can manipulate with their fingers. View them in ball-and-stick or space-filling modes. You can download new molecules from the RCSB Protein Data Bank, for biological molecules and their 3-D structures, or NCBI's PubChem, a public database of compounds.

Organic Chemistry Essentials app for iPhone
Organic Chemistry Essentials app for iPhone

Organic Chemistry Essentials app

for iPhone, iPad

Who knew there's organic chemistry nerd humor? The Organic Chemistry Essential app will give you a healthy dose along with reagents, synthetic strategy, organic reactions, AND trick reactions.

GEOLOGY and WEATHER APPS

Learn about and record your observations of rocks, minerals, seismic events, formations, and weather phenomena.

Geology Sample Collector app for Android
Geology Sample Collector app for Android

Geology Sample Collector app

for Android devices

Document your work while you're in the field with the Geology Sample Collector. Use GPS to track and document your samples, including images, video, audio recordings, and text. Then share your work, upload it to a classroom website, then create reports that include the maps and data. Students can even automatically create a presentation or video of the sampling.

The app also has a strike and dip tool to allow you to measure planar and linear features.

iSeismometer app for iPad, iPhone
iSeismometer app for iPad, iPhone

iSeismometer app

for iPad, iPhone and Android devices

The iSeismometer app for iPad, iPhone and iSeismometer app for Android are useful apps for classroom demonstrations and experiments in geology. It records 10 seconds of seismic data.

PHYSICS APPS

Learn and apply the principles of physics.

Particle Zoo app for iPhone, iPad
Particle Zoo app for iPhone, iPad

Particle Zoo app

for iPad, iPhone

By taking a trip to the Particle Zoo, students can learn the quirks of quarks and the basics of all major particle groups such as quark, lepton, boson, nucleon, etc. Essential reference information includes spin, charge, mass, symbol and weight. Use the anti-particle button at the top of the screen to link to each particle's anti-particle. And those particles look so darn cute, to boot.">

Physics Gizmo app for Android
Physics Gizmo app for Android

Physics Gizmo app

for Android devices

Turn your Android phone into a sensor for science experiments. Physics Gizmo collects for a variety of sensors. You select the sensor and set the timer start collecting data. Then upload it for analysis later.

PhysicalSci app for iPad, iPhone
PhysicalSci app for iPad, iPhone

PhysicalSci app

for iPad, iPhone

The PhysicalSci app is an interactive glossary of physical science terms that features brief animations to illustrate concepts. It is targeted to middle and high school science students, grades 6-12.

GENERAL SCIENCE APPS

References for a variety of sciences

Science Glossary app for iPhone, iPad
Science Glossary app for iPhone, iPad

Science Glossary App

for iPhone, iPad

The glossary of scientific terms and short biographies in the Science Glossary app is supported by the Visionlearning website. Each definition links to related terms and to free, detailed science learning modules. Students in grades 6-12, as well as undergraduate students, will find this app particularly useful.

LearningReviews Science Directory
LearningReviews Science Directory

More free science resources

LearningReviews Science directory of science websites and apps lists more than 550 free websites, games, interactives and apps in all of the sciences for K-12 students.

More by this Author


Have you used any science apps? 3 comments

oliviagonzalez099 profile image

oliviagonzalez099 3 years ago

Thank you for influencing so many readers with your great information. Your lens has sparked a lot of thought for me.


MarthaBuckly profile image

MarthaBuckly 3 years ago

Nice apps, thanks for this list


EthanPerry LM profile image

EthanPerry LM 4 years ago

Very cool!

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