Shout Science is a fantastic free comic storybook app, available for the iPad, which tells the story of scientific discoveries that most students probably take for granted. The three stories are narrative biographies of famous discoveries during the Scientific Revolution in Europe; Anton Van Leeuwenhoek’s discovery of microorganisms, Maria Sibylla Merian’s study of insects and the life cycle of the butterfly, and James Hutton’s geological Theory of the Earth.
Geared for ages 7-11, Shout Science opens with a European map on the left and a scientific historical timeline on the right, offering two ways to access the three stories contained within. Students are likely to love the graphics and interactive features of this app. The design is sophisticated and the color palate aesthetically pleasing, making it a perfect hybrid of children’s book and comic book. Throughout the three stories, the app features interactive elements, including sound effects and animated elements, that students can choose to engage with or not. The story requires scrolling, so students will be kinesthetically engaged the whole time, likely to encourage intellectual engagement as well.
The app does not contain a read-over audio track throughout (though some of the more difficult terms and phrases do have voiceover sound bytes to assist students), so using this app involves some fairly substantial reading comprehension practice. The graphics and animations help with that comprehension, and students will also develop their vocabulary as they go. Though they’re reading about scientific development, history, and vocabulary, they’re doing so in a way that is both engaging and interesting.
In addition to the comic/story book portion, each story is accompanied by a more “academic” section that will likely appeal to older students. This section offers a more specific timeline for the historical figures featured in the stories, a scientific glossary, and a bibliography of sources to consult if they want to learn more. These sections elevate the app to a research resource, allowing teachers to use it strategically to address both science content knowledge and developing research skills.
The main problem with this app is that it only has three stories—we just want more! So many more scientific discoveries and interesting figures could be added to the app, and we sincerely hope that the developer will continue to expand and update the app.
In the meantime, the lack of additional stories could work in an instructor’s favor. For older grades, the three existing stories create wonderful models that could be the jumping off point for a fantastic interdisciplinary project asking students to create their own comic book about a scientific discovery.
Encouraging research, reading comprehension, writing, and presentation skills, the project may just inspire future scientists, writers, or comic book geniuses—all as a result of Shout Science! Shout Science is available for free on iTunes.