26.09.2014

Can apps revolutionize school science class?

Image: Frog Virtual Dissection

Some time ago for a work trip I visited the northern zone of Sinaloa state, in northeastern Mexico. Upon entering the office, a colleague noted on his desk a box with bags of dead frogs, properly packed with chloroform. Surprised, I asked him what that was. He replied that it was exported to high schools in the USA for students to work on anatomy in a practical way.

I asked if in recent years they had experienced a drop in sales, due to the existence of increasingly popular apps to understand frog´s anatomy. His response was “no….for now”. So today we ask whether specific apps to teach science manage to revolutionize school practices.

###A new way of learning science

Can apps revolutionize school science class?

Can apps revolutionize school science class?

Image: Pocket Universe

Thanks to the app ecosystem, smartphones and tablets little by little are substituting the traditional methodologies to teach and learn in high schools. Science is the most typical example. Some examples of these applications are:

Frog Dissection: Helps you to understand frogs in a simple way and without sacrificing a frog´s life. For this reason, the app was recommended by PETA, the famous organization that protects animals in the United States. The app is paid and you can find the downloads links at frogvirtualdissection.com.

Periodic Lite Who has not suffered as a teenager trying to learn the periodic table of elements? Fortunately, students now have new ways of learning it, bypassing the boring memorization methods. This is exactly what the free app Periodic Lite aims to do, and many others that are on the app market, available for any type of mobile.

Cell Me: All living things in the world came from the cell, which defines how each one of us is shaped. Learning the basics of cells is required material in high school. An example of a free app is here.

Pocket Anatomy: This is one of the most praised applications to learn human anatomy in an interactive way. It is used even in medical schools, as described in their website. This same company offers similar apps specialized in the heart and brain.

Pocket Universe: The universe is another theme that high school students study and there are also apps for it. The advantage of these types of applications is that the cloudy weather will not prevent us from studying the universe, we can even do it in the comfort of our room in an interactive way. The links to download it are in pocketuniverse.info.

The mSchools programme is a multi-faceted mEducation initiative by Mobile World Capital Barcelona, in collaboration with The Generalitat of Catalonia, Barcelona City Hall and GSMA.
Launched in 2013, mSchools supports students and teachers effectively integrating mobile technologies into the classroom. Mobile enables access to up-to-date materials, improves collaboration and strengthens learner engagement, opening up new ways of teaching and learning that improve achievement and employability.
The mSchools programme brings together private and public institutions to help students build important new skills and prepare them for today’s digital world.

Mobile World Capital presents a global vision that effectively integrates mobile technologies into the fabric of the industries transforming our lives. Committed to expanding the mobile experience throughout Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain with strong support of the public and private sector.

Mobile World Capital is leading mobile transformation through commitments in Competence Centres, local Industry Development, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation programmes.

MWCapital offers an open platform and exhibition showroom where citizens can understand and experience how mobile is enhancing our lives: The Mobile World Centre, located in the heart of Barcelona on Plaza Catalunya.

More information:

Will technology completely replace traditional methods?

It´s difficult to predict if technology will completely replace old teaching methods, especially that of science, for high school students. For example, it will never be the same to dissect a real frog and to do it with an app. The touch and sight sensations are completely different. The same happens with experimenting with liquid chemicals in a laboratory, where you know that a drop of liquid can create a dangerous reaction.

Certainly technology reduces costs, dangers, facilitates self-learning, brings science to the masses and makes it more interesting, among other benefits. But on many occasions to understand science, you have to touch it, feel it and smell it to understand it fully. Finding the exact mix between using technology and traditional methods seems to be today´s challenge.

For now I hope the frog exporting business of my colleague continues to thrive. Otherwise, he will have to begin to explore the possibility of migrating to other businesses, as thousands of other entrepreneurs that have been affected by the development of technology. As incredible as it seems.