Top 3 Free Apps for STEM

I’m always searching for simple, innovative ways to implement iPads into STEM challenges and activities.  As a “newbie” to iPad integration over the past year, I continually look to the guidance of other iPad savvy teacher bloggers such as Kami Butterfield of Teaching with Appitude and Erin Flanagan of Erintegration.

Here are my Top 3 favorite FREE kid-friendly apps that help to enrich and extend STEM challenges in the classroom:

The “Draw and Tell” app is a recent discovery and has quickly become my favorite classroom app because it can be used in a huge variety of ways. Draw and Tell was created by Duck Duck Moose, the well-known company behind the “Chatterpix” app, but offers a lot more versatility.  Students can add their own photos OR draw their own blueprints, then add words and stickers on top.

In the photo below, students select the “Blank Paper” and then the blueprint design to sketch ideas before beginning their STEM challenge.   They can also label the parts by using the letter stickers. The following blueprint is from my “Rainbow Bridge” STEM Challenge.

Just like Chatterpix, kids can record their voice to explain their creation or tell a creative story about a structure.  However, the recording is not limited to 30 seconds, so students can record longer explanations and stories and even move the stickers as “characters” while they talk!

My next favorite STEM app is “Pic Kids” or “Pic Collage Kids” which is the kids’ version of the popular app, “Pic Collage.” What I love about this app is that kids pick up on the functionality VERY quickly, even as young as Kindergarten.  You can layer photos and add text in just a few short steps.

Pic Kids is a great app to use when introducing a STEM Challenge.  Students can Google images for the structure they’re trying to create (roller coasters, towers, catapults, etc.) and compile a collage of their favorite designs to use as inspiration. My kids used this app for our “Roller Coaster” STEM Challenge last spring.

Students can also take photos of their finished designs and use the text tool to label the major parts:

Pic Kids also works as a perfect extension for STEM Bins, as students create collages of their different structures:

My last favorite app for STEM may not seem all that exciting, but it doesn’t require any downloading because it is a standard Apple app.  In the most recently updated version of the “Notes” app, students can add photos and even record their voices to translate into text!  This makes the possibilities for this app endless, because students can type or record explanations and descriptions for their challenges, and even reflections or creative stories too.

Whether you have a 1 to 1 iPad classroom or have just a few for your students to share, these apps provide a simple and meaningful way to integrate technology into your STEM challenges.  I hope you love them as much as me and my students do!