Biology and Ecology Apps

Replacing a chalkboard with technology only makes sense if the new medium offers new possibilities. Colorful images invite attention and coupled with interactive features truly work together to engage a learner. This exercise is not identical to a teacher providing a lecture but it does provide learning opportunities similar to opening and reading a book.

The following are two examples of applications now available and are free to download. One does not really need an IPad or android to access the contents of these applications since the respective web sites likewise provide images and information to viewers. The only difference perhaps with the app is that one can easily access it anywhere and swipe from page to page.

The first example is appropriate for young learners. It is from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Its web site already provides a lot of information regarding endangered species, from tigers to whales. Each animal comes with an overview, why they matter, threats, what WWF is doing, and how can you help sections. This content has been   placed together into one app for the IPad allowing young children to flip through with guidance from their parents. Here is a preview of  the app called WWF Together:

Brad Spirrison of appolearning provides the following review:

Why we love this app

We can't get enough of this one, and neither will your kid. WWF Together offers stunning wildlife images and useful information on species, habitat, environmental concerns, and more to help paint a picture of the struggles many wild animals face around the globe. Kindergartners and 1st graders will like flipping through the app with mom and dad. Older kids should be fine on their own.

What it teaches and how it works

Kids click on one of a dozen animals to learn facts and see additional photos. Major problems facing each species are also highlighted. Students may also click on an animated globe to learn about dozens of other wild animals facing habitat loss or related concerns.

Why your kid won't be able to put it down

So much thought and care went into the development of this app, and it's apparent on every page. Starting with the large inviting pictures and continuing through the carefully crafted prose, this app is clearly a winner.
For older kids (Grade 6 through 8), Julene Reed also of appolearning points us to an application that may appeal to adolescents and teach the foundation of living systems, the cell. This app runs on both IPad and Android systems. There is also a web version that can run on desktop or laptop computers. The app is the HudsonAlpha iCell, which allows students to explore bacterial, plant and animal cells:

Snapshots of the HudsonAlpha iCell app
Here is Reed's review of this app:

Why we love this app

This app is excellent for providing students with information about cell structures in an interactive, 3D environment. The ability to manipulate the cell structures, enlarging them and rotating them, as students learn about different parts of the cell is engaging and provides great interactivity.

What it teaches and how it works

Basic cell structure with information on different parts of a cell is provided in a 3D environment for plant, animal, and bacterial cell study and comparison of the three types of cells. The 3D models of the cell organelles have been updated and improved from an earlier version of the app. When students tap on a cell organelle, its name and a short description appear on the screen. The ability to choose from three levels of difficulty is especially adaptive for students in different grade levels. Zooming in on the cells and rotating them in a 3D fashion is a really engaging aspect of this app. DNA researchers at the HudsonAlpha Institute developed this app. Students will learn extremely accurate information about the different parts of a cell.

Why your kid won't be able to put it down

Kids will love exploring the cells in this virtual environment in ways that are not available in other situations. Being able to see these basic units of molecular structure and their parts gets kids excited about the wonder of science.

The above two are indeed among the best apps out there. These are clear illustrative examples of new things technology can make possible for learning.