Tagged: mobile

“The Strange and Wonderful World of Ants” – App for iPad


This image is a screenshot from the fascinating iPad app “Strange and Wonderful World of Ants” by Amos Latteier with drawings by Melinda Matson. When the call went out from @ktenkely on Twitter for English and Science teachers to review this beautifully produced childrens ‘book’ for the iPad, I jumped at the chance. This unique application has three reading levels, suitable from 7 year olds to adults and information to inspire the most curious insect lovers. A quirky little ant character, E.O. Ant (presumably named after the famous American biologist and ant expert, E.O. Wilson) appears on each page with an informative and humorous commentary.

At the beginners level, the app introduces the life of different types of ants and their relationships with aphids, fungus and each other. The advanced level discusses phermones, symbiotic relationships, the bivouac and trophallaxis, providing excellent examples and descriptions of concepts. My 11 year old daughter, who read the intermediate level, enjoyed the close-up, black and white drawings and learnt about some of the unusual ant behaviours. It was more difficult to get any feedback from my 13 year old son (you know teenagers!) but he seemed to like it, although I doubt it would be something he would install of his own accord. As a teacher of middle years science, this would be a great app to promote scientific literacy in the classroom and to engage students in project about insects. Students always bring their own knowledge and experiences to the classroom and I can imagine this app kick-starting discussions about ants that carry 50 times their own body weight, how they smell when you squash them and why they start running around before rain.

The app also has a message to readers about how humans could learn a lot from the way ants co-operate, create and communicate with each other. I would love to see more educational apps like this, and will be recommending this one to our librarian, although we are still waiting for the Apple bulk purchase discounts for school use in Australia. Congratulations to Amos Latteier and Melinda Matson for an excellent addition to the list of educational apps with a difference.

Technoscience at Slide2Learn conference


This week I was fortunate to participate in the inaugural “Slide2Learn” conference, held over two days in Shepparton, Victoria. It was a fantastic event, organised by a committed and enthusiastic group of innovative teachers, to share their specialised knowledge with other teachers from Australia and beyond. The conference was held at the school of Louise Duncan, winner of the 2009 Lindsay Thompson Fellowship, for her Personalised Learning program. I was thrilled to meet Jenny Ashby, a leading teacher,  seasoned presenter and iPod Touch  expert educator. I also attended inspiring sessions by Jonathon Nalder (Key note speaker) Megan Iemma, Stacey Kelly, Kate Maccoll (fellow science freak) and Deon Scanlon. One of the highlights was the Ustream presentation by Tony Vincent, who gave practical, hands-on advice about how to implement mobile devices in schools.

Some of the applications we found out about that are relevant specifically to science teaching are:

  • 8Planets – animations, information and quiz about our solar system
  • CO2 footprint – a greenhouse gas calculator
  • Human calculator – add your birth date and time and find out how many breaths, heart beats, how much food eaten, urine produced and much more…….
  • Periodic table – beautiful images and information about of all the chemical elements
  • Biology core – glossary with biological definitions

In addition, there were many, many more applications with more generalised use that would be useful in my science classes:

  • Simple Mind Express and Idea Sketch for concept mapping
  • SWOT for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  • Studystack for flash cards
  • iTalk and Voice memos for voice recording (with a microphone)
  • Posterous to send podcasts to a blog
  • Animoto and Sonic pics for slideshows
  • Etchasketch with colours, shapes, text and free-form writing and drawing
  • Cropsuey to crop, rotate and flip images
  • Colour magic and Glow for special effects on images

I’ll be writing more posts about using iPods in education soon – what an exciting time to be a teacher!

There is a more extensive list at  the ICTeD Services blog and on the ning.