From Cheryl Davis: Cool Science Apps and Sites

I’m going to do a short series of posts here on some of the amazing apps I learned about at Castilleja. All of these come recommended by Cheryl Davis at Acalanes Union High School District.

  • Weather Station: offers great up-to-the-minute weather reports for your current location–and for sites around the world. Don’t you want to know what the barometric pressure is right now?
  • Planets: A personal favorite. As you may know, I grew up in Houston and I’ve long loved NASA and everything space-related. True story: I’m a proud graduate of Sally K. Ride Elementary School. This app makes my ten-year-old self very happy.
  • Google Earth: an obvious choice maybe, but don’t underestimate how insanely cool this. I love being able to pull up street views at historic sites: want to tour the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul from your classroom? Want to stand on the Great Wall of China? Use Google Earth!
  • KQED Quest: not an app but an amazing resource library on science from our very own public television station. A ton of stuff here, and very worth sorting through.
  • iTunesU: so many science videos are available here! Terrific content to pull into existing courses. This link will take you to the National Science Digital Library’s presence on iTunesU. Terribly cool stuff.
  • Periodic Table of the Elements: Sophomores: you need this on your iPad. You just do.
  • The Elements: A Visual Exploration: THIS IS AMAZING: it’s exactly what it says it is, and it’s insanely cool!
  • Inkling: a great textbook e-reader that I wasn’t familiar with, and for which there is a ton of existing content, including chapters of AP science textbooks. A free app with lots of high-quality content available. Worth exploring for sure.
Ms. Davis also offered some great ideas on how to use existing tools to add to science classes:
  • Use blogs for lab reports. Have each student or each lab group create a blog where they can record their lab reports and submit their findings. A great way to send a teacher home with a list of links to grade rather than a heavy armful of lab notebooks.
  • Use Google forms to collect data for lab results. I’m going to have to do a post later this summer on the sheer power of Google forms; they rock my world. This could be a great way to live-capture a lot of results in a place that’s public and accessible by all students and all teachers at once.
  • Use the iBook Author tool to make student-produced books. The iBook Author tool isn’t just for teachers. What if students used it to create short books featuring text, images, audio, and video to illustrate an important concept or offer their lab results?
  • Skype a Scientist! Use Skype or FaceTime to contact a scientist for a real-time questions-and-answer session on a topic in class.
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