Find more Astronomy apps suggested by our growing community of teachers and parents.
About the Apps
Students of middle school age are likely getting their first real taste of the science of astronomy. This is an age characterized by great curiosity and inquisitiveness.
The iPad serves as a wonderful tool for stimulating and engaging young minds as they work to grasp the immense universe around them. There are hundreds of powerful astronomy apps available, many of which offer similar features and content. The ones that stand out are those that offer specific and unique experiences for the user. Many apps are complex and difficult to navigate, while others simply try to do too much. The best apps are beautifully designed, taking advantage of the incredible imagery associated with the study of space. They are intuitive and focused, allowing the user to navigate effortlessly. They offer focused content, while still allowing for exploration and discovery.
Middle school students must have the opportunity to understand the important concepts of astronomy: motions of objects, gravitational attraction, and classification. At the same time, they need to be challenged, having the opportunity to explore deeper and satisfy their curiosity and be engaged.
Interactive Minds: Solar System is a great example of an app that offers enough detail and interaction to engage, but not so much that it is overwhelming. Students will be hooked by the impressive facts as they explore the basics of astronomy.
Jeffy's World and Orbit Architect are powerful simulations of celestial motion. Jeffy's World may seem somewhat elementary, but it does a great job demonstrating the complex motions involved in seasonal changes and lunar phases. Orbit Architect is a simple, focused app with one purpose: demonstrating orbital motion. A high degree of interactivity in both of these apps makes them truly engaging.
Finally, Star Walk HD and Sun Seeker utilize powerful augmented reality technology to superimpose the sky right onto the iPad camera screen. This creates a transformative learning experience. This technology allows for the visualization of motions in a way that was never before possible.
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Apps are scored using a proprietary evaluation rubric to judge Educational Content, Kid Appeal, Assessment, Features and Design, Value, and Safety and Privacy.