Here’s a list of our top picks for educational and engaging STEM apps for kids. We hope you enjoy trying out some of these fantastic apps!
FREE – Ages 5-8 – Coding/Programming
Scratch Jr. helps young children to learn how to code. Children program their own interactive stories, games, and animations by snapping together graphical programming blocks. PBS Kids also offers a special version of the Scratch Jr. app which allows children to make unique creations with their favorite PBS kids characters.
Although the original Scratch platform is not yet available as an app, children ages 8 and older can access Scratch on desktops. In using this desktop version, children are able to share their creations in an online community and work collaboratively with others. Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT Media Lab. To learn more about Scratch as well as the benefits of teaching children to code, listen to this Ted Talk by Mitch Resnick of MIT Media Lab.
FREE – Ages 8+ –Coding/Programming
Hopscotch is another great option for children ages 8 and older to practice their coding and programming skills. Hopscotch allows kids to code their own unique games and apps using graphical drag and drop tools. Children may choose to publish their creations in a safe, moderated online community where they can receive feedback from peers and test out the apps and games others have created. It is also worth noting that this app has won several awards (Parents Magazine Best Education Tech App, Children’s Technology Review Gold Award, and the Parent’s Choice Gold Award).
$2.99 – Ages 6+ –Robotics/Engineering
Children can flex their creative thinking and reasoning skills and learn about engineering when they create, test, and collect robots with The Robot Factory by Tinybop. Kids have the freedom to attach body parts, select a color scheme, and even record sounds for their very own robots. Once they have finished the design process, children can test out how their robot handles different terrain, make revisions, or create new robots to add to their collection. The Robot Factory was touted as the iPad App of the Year in 2015.
$2.99 – Ages 7+ –Engineering/Physics
The Everything Machine is a digital playground for children to tinker, build and create almost any machine they can dream up. The app allows kids to experiment with their device’s built-in sensors and tools (i.e. microphone, camera, speaker, gyroscope, etc.). Children can figure out how to use the app’s tools through trial and error or by using the provided tutorial videos and written guides. The Everything Machine gives children the opportunity to practice problem-solving skills, while honing their creativity and self-direction ability.
$2.99 – Ages 5+ –Engineering/Physics/Logic
Children “pull” themselves through 61 levels using simple machines created from a wide range of tools and gadgets (i.e ball and chain, pulleys, gears, wheels, rods, racks, hooks, weights, etc.). Crazy Gears allows children to engage and experiment with physics and engineering properties through fun, open-ended play. Crazy Gears was the recipient of the 2015 Children’s Technology Review Award.
$3.99 – Ages 3-8 –Physics/Logic
Children work through a series of skill-building levels which explore various physical properties (i.e. force, acceleration, buoyancy, heat, elasticity, and gravity) as they attempt to move their Thinkrolls through various obstacles and mazes. This engaging app for preschoolers and early elementary-aged children was named one of USA Today’s 10 Top Kids Apps of 2014. Children will love practicing their critical thinking and puzzling skills with Thinkrolls.
FREE* – Ages 3-8 –Mathematics
Todo Math offers over 700 engaging, personalized math activities to help children practice a wide range of skills. Activities are inclusive of children with learning differences, and Todo Math acts as an ideal platform for all kids to practice concrete ways to understand abstract math concepts. Todo Math offers a low pressure, penalty-free, self-paced setting in which children can improve their confidence and ability in math.
*As fair warning — although it is free to download the app and play several levels, there are also optional in-app purchases to upgrade access to the full curriculum.