What Are The Best Free Science Apps For iPad & iOS?
by TeachThought Staff
The ease-of-use and engagement factor of an iPad can really liven up a lesson.
Combine that with an app’s ability to simulate reality in br, such as chemical reactions, and you have a tool that is both safe and fun for your students.
Below, we’ve gathered 20 of the best free science apps currently available for iPhone/iPad/iOS. Note, many of the science apps below have in-app purchases but are free to download and use. The main criteria here was that it’s a science app and is worth using/teaching and learning with without making any additional purchases.
20 Of The Best Free Science Apps For iOS & iPad
1. Google Science Journal
Summary: A free app from Google to promote the learning of science through the use of smartphone technology
Developer Description: Science Journal is the free digital science notebook brought to you by Google. Whether you’re a science educator or a hobbyist doing science at home, you can keep your notes, photos, and observations all in one convenient place. Use the sensors in your iPhone or iPad to measure and graph phenomena such as light, sound, and motion, or connect to external sensors via bluetooth to conduct experiments on the world around you.
- Measure light, sound, acceleration, air pressure, and more using your device’s built-in sensors.
- Take notes and photos to document your science experiments.
- Connect to external sensors using select Bluetooth-enabled Arduino devices.
- Create automated triggers for recording data and taking notes.
- Use sonification to hear the movement of your graphs.
Summary: edX is a platform for online learning and courses
Developer Description: EdX’s online courses are taught by experts and professors from the world’s top universities and institutions. Enrich your education with courses from Harvard, MIT, UC Berkeley, Microsoft, Columbia, Wharton, Oxford, and 100 other institutions around the world.
Courses available in:
- Computer science: Master courses in artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, cloud computing, and cybersecurity.
- Mathematics: from high school to college-level math courses, master your skills in calculus, statistics, and algebra.
- Science & Engineering: Top online courses in subjects including biology, chemistry, robotics, manufacturing, and various engineering fields.
Summary: A longstanding talk and lecture series about a range of topics–including many from science–from engaging speakers with often fascinating (if sometimes not a bit gimmicky) ideas
Developer Description: Feed your curiosity and expand your world with TED Talks. Explore more than 3,000 free videos and learn from the world’s most remarkable people. Search by any mood or topic, from tech and science to the surprises of your own psychology.
- Browse the TED Talks video library, with subtitles in over 100 languages to discover inspiring, funny, or jaw-dropping talks and curated playlists
- Sign in to your TED profile to sync saved talks across devices and let us build you a custom playlist – tailored to fit your ideal timeframe
- Download talks to watch offline; Bookmark talks to watch later
Summary: More game than pure ‘simulation,’ TerraGenesis is nonetheless an engaging way to introduce students to the science of settling on new planets across the universe. And the best part? While there are in-app purchases, the free version is plenty and worth a download.
Developer Description: Utilize real science from NASA to cultivate life on desolate planets. Think you have what it takes to bring a dead planet back to life? Can you settle the stars? The universe is your playground in TerraGenesis. Colonize real planets in our solar system, planets created just for TerraGenesis and even alien worlds! When the world is in your hands, the possibilities are truly endless.
- It’s a biosphere simulator. Build your own functioning ecosystem with interacting, custom organisms
- Start with 26 different phyla and add 64 unique genes to create all kinds of amazing organisms to inhabit your world
- Manage your lifeforms as they thrive in both terrestrial and aquatic biospheres and terraform your planet to support human life by altering specific properties of each world, including air pressure, oxygen, sea levels, and biomass
- Colonize real planets from our solar system, including Mars, Venus, Mercury, and even Earth; Terraform orbital satellites, including The Moon as well as the Moons of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune; Terraform Dwarf Planets, including Ceres, Pluto, Charon, Makemake, Eris and Sedna
- Melt ice caps to create planet-wide oceans and seed the planet with life
Summary: An epidemic simulation but for fun
Note, this games–and others like it–are essentially epidemic simulators–or ‘games’ that are less simulation-like and more tended towards ‘fun.’ Meaning, it’s a game where wiping out the population is the ‘fun.’ If this is actually ‘fun’ to you–much less students–depends on the context. With this in mind, this is a game better suited to university-level ‘study.’
Developer Description: Bio Inc is a biomedical strategy simulator in which you determine the ultimate fate of a victim by developing the most lethal illness possible.
- 100+ realistic biomedical conditions
- Spread diseases across all human systems with real-time human body degradation
6. The Sandbox
Summary: A pixel-styled app that allows players to ‘play’ with basic scientific ingredients and principals through a series of challenges/levels
Developer Description: Start from scratch with basic building blocks like stone, water, and soil. Grow plants, raise mountains, generate life and gain access to advanced crafting tools. Create non-organic elements like metal and light bulbs, and populate your universe with creations both natural and technological.
• Over 280 elements to combine for different physics effects; Create chain reactions with unique sensor types, including liquid, light, and temperature
• Use intuitive builder controls to place metal, concrete and more; Add life forms and tech to your town and help it grow
• Create your own city sim with AI, technology and completely interactive building or dynamic contraptions with the Brainiac: assemble them, move them, transport materials and activate separate actions; Add controllable elements that you can customize to create your own game rules
Summary: An app with science-based courses.
You can check out more on their website, too.
Developer Description: Brilliant’s mission is to inspire and develop people to achieve their goals in STEM – one person, one question, and one small commitment to learning at a time. We enable great teachers to illuminate the soul of math, science, and engineering through bite-sized, interactive learning experiences. Our courses explore the laws that shape our world, and elevate math and science from something to be feared to a delightful experience of guided discovery. We aim to cultivate a world of better learners, thinkers, and problem solvers.
- Brilliant provokes your natural curiosity and guides you through an interactive exploration of concepts and principles. Learn in an informal way that fits into your busy life.
- Brilliant’s approach to learning is active, not passive. Through active problem solving, Brilliant helps you build your quantitative intuition. Learn frameworks for thinking and solving challenging problems, instead of memorizing formulas.
- With free, curated weekly problems, you can gain timeless knowledge and flex applied problem-solving skills in bite-sized sessions. Stay fresh and discuss your favorite solutions with an engaged community of lifelong learners.
Summary: An that allows users to explore the earth’s diverse ecoystsems
Developer Description: Can you find frogs on Mount Everest? What is the climate like in the Congo Basin in February? Do you have endangered species in your own neighborhood? BiomeViewer lets you explore and discover Earth’s ecosystems with a tap of your finger! Drop a pin to see historic climate data, wildlife, stunning pictures, and more for any terrestrial location on the planet. Discover how patterns of human settlement and agriculture have changed the planet since 1700. Other features include:
• Descriptions for every major biome on each continent
• Biodiversity data for more than 16,000 species of reptiles, amphibians, and mammals
• Gridded historical climate data for the entire planet as well as global precipitation and temperature maps
• Maps of human alteration of ecosystems over the last 300 years
• Side-by-side biome comparisons and fully-interactive globe and flat map versions of all datasets
• Gridlines and political boundaries and animated data sets
You’re likely familiar with YouTube, so there’s little use in describing it or pointing out its features. In short, YouTube is the largest, most popular video library of user-generated content on earth. If you’re looking for a free way to learn about science, properly curated YouTube playlists are a solid place to start–this one, for example.
Summary: Learn science through quick and simple quizzes
Developer Description: Science Challenging Quiz App provides more than 45,000 quizzes about Biology, Chemistry, Geography, and Physics to let students practice. The App supports students who love science to explore chemistry in a fun way too.
Summary: A ‘practice academic content’ app that features user-generated science content in a flash card and basic learning game-format.
Developer Description: Study almost anything for free across 25 addictive mini-games in one app and easily create your own study sets or download study sets from teachers and classmates.
- Tens of thousands of gorgeous flashcards and carefully curated lessons covering hundreds of topics.
- Bitsboard is ideal for learning languages, mastering vocabulary, learning to read, learning to speak, becoming the next spelling champion and so much more.
- Bitsboard is fully customizable to meet your specific learning needs
Summary: A well-organized ‘science content’ app that allows users to explore scientific content academically.
Developer Description: Learn 100+ science topics with Haley, your child’s own science expert. Created by educators and storytellers, our Science Standards aligned interactive lessons are fun, educational, and engaging.
- Explore and interact with your knowledgeable guides one lesson at a time
- Complete challenge questions that test your knowledge
- Run science experiments
- Document what you’ve learned with sketches, pictures, and creations
Summary: An ‘active science’ app that has users ‘doing science’–in this case, documenting the location of birds. Observation is a crucial step of the scientific method!
Developer Description: eBird Mobile makes it easy to record the birds you see in the field, and seamlessly link these observations with eBird–a global online database of bird records used by hundreds of thousands of birders around the world. This free resource makes it easy to keep track of what you see, while making your data openly available for scientific research, education, and conservation.
Summary: This is one of the best free science apps that focuses on understanding dinosaurs.
Developer Description: Join an interactive, narrated, and guided tour through all things dinosaurs! Discover dinosaurs around the world, travel through time, explore 3-D models, answer fun dinosaur science questions with Haley, draw your own dinosaur, and more.
- Child-friendly, not childish content – We use realistic renderings or actual video footage.
- Multi-sensory learning – Narration throughout the app guides and explains concepts. Every screen is touchable for maximum engagement.
- Nurture curiosity – Content is aligned with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). We want children to develop a deeper understanding of science beyond memorizing facts.
- Non-addictive – Our stories have an ending and are designed as ‘snack-sized content’
15. 3D Galaxy Map
Summary: An astronomy app that focuses on the scale of the universe and the vastness of space and celestial objects
Developer Description: Explore space and get a little closer to our wonderful universe with this astronomy app. This interactive 3D map is one of the best free science apps for exploring the Milky Way galaxy and space as students learn more about the universe we live in.
- Over 248.000 stars in the database from the European Space Agency’s Hipparcos mission, the Gliese catalog and parts of the ASCC – All Sky Compiled Catalog
- 14 black holes in binary systems
- Search for stars by constellation, name, catalog or star type (color)
- Detailed information on every star including its catalog designations, the system type (binary, ternary, quaternary system and so on), distance from the Sun and star radius
Developer Description: Explore all world animals in thousands of hours of articles and pictures covering everything from the aardvark to zebra. Our encyclopedia of animals contains beautiful HD photos, great organization, and user interface and the most comprehensive information about animals you may want to know.
17. NSF Science Zone
Summary: A National Science Foundation-centered app with multimedia and data about a range of scientific facts and ideas
Developer Description: Whether you’re a teacher, student, or just fascinated by science, the NSF Science Zone app will ignite your imagination. Featuring hundreds of exciting videos and high-resolution photos from a dozen areas of science, you can spend hours absorbed in discoveries that take you from the depths of space, to the wonders of the unimaginably small, to the far corners of our own planet. All brought to you by the National Science Foundation.
- Spin through the carousel browser to learn about hundreds of discoveries that are shaping your world
- Dive deeper into the latest scientific innovations with hours of captivating videos and fascinating photos
- Apply filters to explore the items that match your areas of interest
- Do a text search for specific items when you know exactly what you’re looking for
- Return again and again to the items that interest you most by saving them to your favorites list
Summary: An app that helps high school students solve chemistry equations.
Developer Description: The app allows to discover chemical reactions and to solve the chemical equations with one and or unknown variables. You’ll always have Mendeleev’s Periodic Table and Solubility table handy. And even the calculator of molar masses.
All these tables and charts are available in the app for free:
- Periodic table
- Chemical reactions search
- Solubility table
- Molar mass calculator
- Electronegativity of elements
- Molecular weights of organic substances
- Reactivity series
- Acid strengths chart
19. NOVA Elements
Summary: An app developed by NOVA that explores that periodic table
Developer Description: Did you ever wonder why the periodic table is shaped the way it is, what gives each element its own unique set of properties, or even how elements combine to make everyday objects such as a cup of coffee? With “NOVA Elements,” explore an interactive periodic table, play a game hosted by David Pogue, or watch the two-hour NOVA program, “Hunting the Elements.”
Developer Description: One of the best free science apps for learning about nature. iNaturalist helps you identify the plants and animals around you. Get connected with a community of over 400,000 scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature! What’s more, by recording and sharing your observations, you’ll create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature. iNaturalist is a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society.
- Discover species new to you both near and far
- Record your own observations and share them with the community
- Receive suggestions and crowdsourced identifications of what you’ve seen
- Discuss and help others identify what they’ve seen
- Follow projects comprised of smaller communities and fellow citizen scientists passionate about a particular place and/or species
Developer Description: Genome Cache™ was developed by the Educational Outreach Team at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Alabama. The original Genome Walk was created for McMillian Park, an outdoor area on the HudsonAlpha campus. The goal of Genome Cache™ was to provide an engaging way for students and the public to explore both McMillian Park and the realm of the human genome.
Developer Description: The Play and Learn Science app contains a suite of educational kids games from PBS KIDS designed to encourage early science learning. Kids can play a range of games that help them learn core scientific concepts, all while building and developing problem-solving skills. As kids play, adults have access to co-learning prompts that offer ways to create “teachable moments” that help kids see how science is part of the world around them. It’s easy to teach science through play and real-world experiences.