Apps that Fly Farther than Angry Birds
Last year, the iPad was the most desirable holiday gift for 'tweens and teens. And from all accounts, desirability and demand is increasing. While the devices are great for social networking and playing games, they also offer unmatchable educational potential. Following are six Parents’ Choice Award-winning apps for middle and high school age children that nurture young authors, artists, astronomers, product designers and even the would-be scholars of Frankenstein.
- For the Artist: Drawing Box: Take a look on iTunes, and you will find no shortage of drawing apps. Drawing Box stands out for not only the quantity, but the quality and diversity of its features. The app, the intuitive nature of which make it accessible for even young children, has an extremely impressive array of tools that will inspire and challenge mature artists too. These tools include: thirteen pencils, nine brushes, five paint rollers, 156 paint colors, 187 stickers, and 104 decorative art patterns. Users can create works of art from scratch or import photographs as a basis for their work. Files can be edited, exported, and shared. In addition to creating original works of art, the app features step-by-step drawing lessons and video replay. Considering the features and longevity of the app, as well as its extremely reasonable price. This app is a must-have for artists of all ages!
- For the Horror Movie Fan: NYPL Biblion: Frankenstein: Before there were horror movies, there were scary books like Frankenstein. Peruse this app’s massive collection of archival materials from the New York Public Library, and you’ll soon become a scholar of all things Frankenstein. The app’s fluid navigation makes it easy to immerse oneself in the stories, videos, sketches, and other materials gathered here, each of which contribute to an in-depth exploration of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein and its legacy.
- For the Next Best-Selling Author: Book Creator for iPad: First things first: Book Creator is not just for children. In fact, it is a professional-level iBook creation app that many will appreciate. Its possibilities are limitless. Tweens may choose to create a middle school memory book, complete with pictures, text, and music. Parents might create a memory book of all of their children's special moments. Aspiring children's book authors might craft their first picture book, and avid cooks might compile all of their recipes in an easily shareable collection. It is easy to add and position text and illustrations to each page, and recording sound to accompany each page is very simple. Once finished, the app offers support for submitting your book to Apple's store.
- For A Future Designer: Design Museum Collection App: The Design Museum Collection App brings London’s Design Museum directly to your iPad in an app that features, of course, clean design and intuitive navigation. Explore the renowned museum’s extensive collection of well-designed furniture, texts, and toys. Watch videos of Deyan Sudjic, the Design Museum’s Director, and Helen Charman, Design Museum Head of Learning, explaining the importance of each object. It’s a fun learning experience that will appeal even to those who didn’t know they had an interest in design.
- For Physicists, Astronauts, and Astronomers in Training: Solar Walk: From the creators of the popular app Star Walk comes the follow up version Solar Walk. Imagine the model of a solar system from your elementary school classroom: all the planets lined up, with a flashlight as the sun. Now imagine that instead of just viewing or holding this model, you could travel through it, zooming from one planet to the next, getting a perspective of size from one to the next. Solar Walk gives you the chance to interact with this model, in a beautifully interactive way. You can zoom out where our own sun is just a dot in the galaxy, zooming in to see solar flares on that same sun. Here, you can understand how large our galaxy is, and how small our own earth is. This brilliant app utilized the exploratory capabilities of the iPad (or iPhone) to their full extent. Users can zoom in and out of a 3D model of the solar system, pausing to examine photo-realistic models of all of the planets, moons, and even satellites. The modeling is exquisite. Earth even rotates in real time, and on the side of the planet that is currently in darkness, you can see lights glimmering in the cities. The interface is incredibly intuitive. Tap a planet to zoom in, swipe to spin it around and examine it from all angles. Easy to use menus display interesting facts about each planet. The accompanying educational videos are solid and make good use of the models to demonstrate some hard to visualized concepts, such as what happens during a total solar eclipse.
Reprinted with the permission of the Parents' Choice Foundation. © Copyright 2012 Parents' Choice Foundation. All rights reserved.
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