The Best iPad apps for STEM and Science Education

Exploriments on iPad are a marriage made in iTunes heaven. They are a boon for all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) initiatives and a way to kindle an interest in learning.

Why Exploriments?
Exploriments are apps that use a visual, simulation-based model that invites interaction in the form of touching, tapping and flicking. This game-like feel creates involvement and hikes the fun factor.

Why Visual Simulation?
A computer application (or, Apple app) is more engaging when it is interactive, dynamic, and intuitive. As human beings with opposable thumbs and articulate fingers, we have all evolved standard gestures from interacting with the analog (or real) world. Here are some gestures we use to communicate or realize intention in the real world:
  • Jab or point fingers to indicate something
  • Turn pages by flicking or swiping
  • Move objects on a smooth surface by tapping to grab, dragging and releasing.
  • Stretch a flexible surface to increase its size, by parting our fingers
  • Roll a cylinder, or show traffic flow by "scrolling" our fingers 
The Language of iPad
Anyone who has used an iPad and has been impressed with its ability to understand what you want it to do, can map each of the gestures mentioned above to an iPad gesture. By making the iPad support universal, non-verbal "intention gestures" on its user interface, Apple has taken our ability to convey intention to a machine to a new level. We know that the iPad is strongly identified with these types of gestures.

iPad and Exploriments - Coming Together
Simulations are computer programs that display objects which need to be moved, dropped, tilted, pulled, pushed, turned ON or turned OFF, in order to interact with other objects, or with the context (environment) itself. Exploriments provides the underlying scientific model (i.e., the rules) of how the objects are allowed to interact - however, it starts when the user first initiates an interaction, which further causes an object to change its state, position or energy level.

Exploriments help you explore Pendulums, Weight and Mass, Simple Circuits, and many more interesting concepts by using game-like simulation and interactivity. This is the ideal toolkit for making learning a fun activity.

Test drive the free Weight & Mass app listed here: Bookmark the microsite and visit regularly - we keep expanding it as we add apps.

Happy Learning!

Exploriments are ideal for 1:1 Ipad Initiative schools interested in emphasizing group learning with teacher-led demos and for injecting interactivity into science sessions - available both on the web at OR as iPad apps on the Apple iTunes Store - search by keyword "Exploriments" to see all our apps.

Exploriments on iPad: Episode III

[Previously, in "Exploriments..."

Episode I spoke about how seductive alternatives are drawing people away from education.
Episode II talked about how Simulation can be our Knight in Shining Armor.]

This episode completes the Trilogy by talking about how simulation as used by Exploriments is most effective when it joins forces with the awesomely cool iPad, and emerges as the teacher's ultimate ally in the war on science illiteracy.

An application generates more engagement when it is interactive, dynamic, and intuitive. As humans with opposable thumbs and articulate fingers, we have all evolved standard gestures from interacting with the "analog", or real world. The iPad's interface supports all these instinctive gestures, making it the ideal platform for our simulation based, game-like apps.

Visual simulations and iPads use similar languages of interaction. Add to that the Exploriments frameworks (Pendulums, Weight and Mass, Simple Circuits, etc), and what you get is the ideal toolkit for making learning a game-like, fun, and engaging activity.

Exploriments on iPad: Episode II

"Simulation based educationthe most effective e-learning strategy"

A "simulation" in the e-learning context is the scientifically correct representation of a real life experiment - such as a pendulum, a chemical reaction, the archimedes principle, friction, levers, circuits and so on. A simulation allows you to move objects around, set things in motion, use a stopwatch, connect wires, measure either voltage or a pendulum's time period, and hundreds more tasks, depending on the specific application - basically, everything you can do in a physical laboratory. 

However, a simulation can take you beyond the physical limitations imposed by a physical lab. In a simulation there are no real risks, costs, or collateral damage, and this means you can easily explore conditions that are not possible to recreate in a laboratory. For example - you can view and control satellite motion, you can change the gravity under which you observe a pendulum, you can easily change the density of a bob or the liquid when exploring Archimedes principle. You can wilfully cause short circuits, cause electrical devices to fail by passing current higher than their safety rating, or increase weight or gravitational force to the point of failure. 

Understanding science by interacting with accurately modeled virtual objects (weights, springs, measuring devices, atoms, molecules, charged particles, etc), in addition to the freedom to test  boundary conditions, are the big wins of our simulation strategy.

Simulation Differentiators:

A simulation is not a "linear" medium such as a textbook or a powerpoint presentation - that is, it does not require you to go from one thing to another, in a particular order. On the contrary, a simulation lets you approach a scenario from different starting points by varying your exploration each time, in order to get a more nuanced understanding. It promotes a more wholistic and multi-perspective understanding of concepts.

A simulation is also great for progressive learning by starting a concept with baby steps, and slowly building up to the full understanding. 

In the hands of an instructor a simulation adapts to the skill level of a student. Because simulations encompass all the relevant science, it is possible to use the same simulation either for simple, intermediate, or advanced insights.

Computer Modelled Reality being what it is, it is possible for a student or teacher to simulate a large number of combinations and scenarios - indeed, it is possible to stumble upon scientifically valid scenarios that even the creators had not thought! This is very different from a static and linear medium which presents a fixed set of problems, or highlights a finite set of explorations.

Finally, a simulation is virtual which means that it resides inside a computer's memory and can be upgraded, enhanced and improved based on both experience and feedback. Being virtual means that it can take you beyond the accepted physical boundaries of an experiment. This opens wonderful possibilities such as increasing learning potential by adding more objects or insights and increasing engagement and collaboration with a set of teachers and students.

Simulations being dynamic and game-like, do wonders for creating engagement. In the hands of a guide, it becomes an effective tool for involving students. Learning by experiencing the thrill of discovery, and by doing all the tasks leading up to it, make this the ideal educational aid in supplementing traditional methods.

Exploriments on iPad: Episode I

"Education at a crossroads"

More and more, school work is being seen as a boring, tedious, zero-fun game. 
Movies, games and networking sites are vying for students' attention (and winning). Most methods of teaching used in schools are unidirectional and non-interactive, and that does not help; classroom instruction that only uses the book-and-board route leaves many students unable to cope, or struggling with text that does not adapt to individual needs. 

Schools need a supplement to boost engagement and generate interest.

Team Exploriments believes that a human brain thrives on stimulation, and that is the secret to making learning a fun activityStudying and learning are activities that are losing ground to gaming and networking. The few students who are interested get tagged geeky or nerdy, and that scares others away. This needs to change. We need role models and change agents to drive this change.

Something is not right. Poor grades and dropouts are on the rise. The lessons taught at school will stick in students' minds if they are fun. This will contribute to a happy, successful and rewarding life. Getting students interested in our technological world should be one of the major aims of education; gaining employment and earning a livelihood are secondary outcomes that will follow automatically, if the first principle is satisfied.

While textbooks, standardized tests and classrooms have their own place, they lack the ability to engage and be fun. Students live in a seductive, media-driven world in which educational aids are forced to compete for attention.

Exploriments offers hope. These are fun apps that allow for self paced exploration

Exploriments was designed to counter this situation. Every app is built from the ground up to reflect our core belief - that a student should learn concepts and ideas the fun way - by interacting with a virtual "lab", by advancing at his or her own pace and learning progressively, by discovering concepts (ably guided by our packaged content) and letting the engagement lead the way to discovery. 

Exploriments enable a game-like immersion, and engage students through the use of interactivity.

The world of pendulums, microscopes, magnets, doorbells, CD players, MP3 players, mobile phones, microwave ovens, cars, computers or even rockets, can be the most exciting of all playgrounds. We believe that the interactivity and game-like engagement achieved by Exploriments makes it a much needed supplement for traditional classroom instruction.