Physics is one of the most difficult subjects for students to learn and an incredibly difficult one for teachers to find quality apps for use in the classroom. With tools for a variety of ages, this list will hopefully help students solidify their skills and teachers diversify their instructional tool kit.
The free version of this app features seven levels of physics levels to explore and the paid option offers 93 more! Puzzles focus on gravity and offer hints by Isaac Newton himself (or the app version of him). Users can create their own puzzle levels in the upgraded version of this app, and teachers may find that the problem solving and creativity involved in that task serves as the best demonstration of student retention of their knowledge!
Bobo, the app’s friendly robot companion, helps 4-12 year old users explore a virtual science museum in this app. Science students can explore 20+ in-depth topics, from lasers to lightning, and participate in hands-on, interactive experiments. Teachers will find this app an excellent addition to free-time activities or a good way to explore a topic with students.
Users can create their own universe with this very cool app, which allows older students to examine the way particles behave based on their different masses. Students who have only ever learned about particles in the abstract may find playing with their own simulated universe quite engaging and helpful to bringing abstract ideas to life.
Users of this app have the opportunity to design complex structures (treehouses? Ferris wheels?) using the parts provided. The goal of this physics-based game is to create the strongest structure for the cheapest price. Students can check the strain on the structure and detonate explosives on their structure as well, a wide range of activities that ought to appeal to even the most cynical student.
Using a personally designed monster avatar, users of this app can build some very cool contraptions out of several different types of building materials (including ice!) using the 68 different parts provided. Students can then operate the creative contraption in real time, seeing firsthand how it works. In addition to this building mode, students can solve special “missions” that require creative problem solving and can be solved using multiple solutions. The creativity of this app is sure to tap into students’ curiosity, and the problem solving skills used will help them practice a facet of their physics education that is not always utilized.
This physics puzzle game features two modes—“invent” and “puzzle.” “Invent” mode offers users the opportunity to build truly outrageous machines and see how they might work, while the “puzzle” mode requires creative thinking to solve specific, physics-related problems. The graphics are engaging and realistic, making this app attractive both visually and intellectually.
This app helps teach students about the physics of fluid motion, a subject not often well understood by students. Users create currents to accomplish goals, like moving balls or collecting coins, while being shown how those fluid currents create beautiful images. Crafty students can also create their own game levels to show their mastery of the subject.
This online game experience helps students learn the logistics of physics without even knowing they are. The game itself is fairly straightforward, users must figure out how to use a few key tools to accomplish a particular goal, but has been proven to improve student exam performance.
Simple Rockets, by the makers of Simple Physics, focuses on the principles of orbital physics and astrodynamics by allowing students to build rockets. Users connect parts together and launch them, learning how they behave in space. Students already interested in rockets and space will find this app fascinating, while also learning about physics principles they may never have considered.
Incorporating these tools and apps into your classroom will transform abstract ideas into concrete, hands-on learning, capturing student attention and making your teaching more powerful!
Samantha Kotey is the editor for AvatarGeneration and has a background in educational technology and virtual worlds. A mom of two, she is passionate about all things related to toys and technology.