Saturday, May 12, 2012

Exoplanet - ipad apps for young children

Do a Google search "apps for young children" and inevitably you are provided with a selection of app icons showing cartoon characters, alphabet flash cards, peekaboo and nursery rhymes. Some of these are great (though never the flash cards!!) But our children deserve more! Our children are capable of more! I recently took an evening session in astronomy for children at our local school on camp. Unfortunately it was cloudy, so we turned to technology. In preparation for this, I had downloaded apps onto the Manaia Kindergarten ipad to use with the school children. The session went brilliantly (but more of that on another post). I left the apps on the ipad and took it back to Kindergarten. I did not alert the children to these new apps - I left them to make their own discoveries. Two weeks later, Otis's Nan brought this picture in to Kindergarten.

Otis told his Mum, "The sun is in the middle of our earth and the earth is going around and round the sun. The planet on the outside is Jupiter."

Wow - When did he learn this? His family had not spoken to him much about the solar system, but he does have a natural curiousity towards stars and planets. He had found the apps, explored them, and set up his own learning goals. Check out the app Otis explored.

Once you have zoomed into Planet Earth's solar system - you can manipulate it for a better look...

Otis clearly had some knowledge of the solar system - such as knowing about the existence of planets, the names of some planets - and he was able to further extend his knowledge by exploring the ipad app Exoplanet. This is a sophisticated app and through this app you can learn about other solar systems - enabling teachers and parents to learn alongside their children. There is huge potential for Otis to further extend his knowledge of solar systems because this app isn't "just for children". It doesn't limit knowledge to information we THINK children can handle.

I continue to search for apps that support children's interests and current knowledge....

In the meantime check out Exoplanet - an added bonus is that its free.

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