We are a science education nonprofit and work with engineers and scientists to convey complex physics-based concepts to children through open-ended engineering design problems. We dove into the nascent field of science education apps because of the overwhelming evidence that mobile devices are going to become mainstream educational devices (see Horizon Report).
The field is new and exciting, but it is not easy to develop an engaging educational app that teaches the user something new each time. So we have had to repeatedly question why we are in this field and what unique perspective we can provide. After developing five apps we finally have a better understanding of what we can provide.
- We have a good understanding of developing open-ended engineering design problems that draw children in and hook them as tinkerers. The virtual world presents a no-mess, quick-reward approach to tinkering. The user can rapidly create many prototypes (without having to get out of her chair), test them and leave no mess.
- We have some experience explaining complex concepts simply to children.
- We work primarily with upper elementary and middle school students and can expand the app market that targets that age range
- Apps provide a cost-effective way in which we can increase our impact. We spend a huge amount of resources on our in-person programs and they only reach a few thousand children and parents each year. Through apps we can reach hundreds of thousands of children and provide them with meaningful experiences that help deepen their conceptual understanding of physics.