This is my fourth post on the ASUS Transformer, but I will mainly focus on free Android Apps that can be used on any Android Tablet, or smartphone. The apps I will look at are all to do with Education (especially Physics), or at least ways to apply them to a classroom situation.
The first one is a nice mind mapping app called Thinking Space. There is a Pro version that costs £2.95, but I can’t really see why anybody wouldn’t be happy with just the free version which I found really intuitive and easy to use. I used it today for the first time at a conference to take notes and it was very simple to add branches, change colours, etc. It doesn’t give you the feel of a hand drawn mind map as branches are very linear and you cannot add graphics to branches, but it is a useful tool to create quick fire mind maps to revisit later. Thanks to this app I also discovered how increadibly accurate the touch keyboard on the Transformer is. In fact, I could write almost as quickly as with the docking keyboard, but with just the tablet to hold it was much easier to hold take photos of the speakers and presentations, like this one.
Another nice app is My Solar System for Free. This app is quite simple, but useful to show some interesting features of the Solar System. You can tilt the plane of the Solar System to see the planets orbiting around the Sun from different angles and, although the sizes and distances of the planets are not to scale you can make estimates on the relative orbital period of different planets with respect to each other. This could be an interesting way to develop Numeracy in young learners, e.g. “How many Mars’ years does it take Jupiter to go around the sun?”, etc… There is also a nice info “button” that brings up general information about the planes, and if you need more information you have a direct link to Google web and image searches. Ah, by the way, Pluto does not appear in this app, so you no longer have to explain to them that that tiny planet on the last orbit is no longer classed as a planet.
Angular Velocity is a nice Physics game that can be used to develop understanding of various concepts, like resonance, forces, etc. You can “tilt gravity” by tilting your Transformer and that can be a bit confusing for the learners, but you could use this new way of interacting with video games (i.e. using the accelerometer) to simulate real situations, like, for example, the effects of an earthquake, or a toy hanging off the rearview mirror inside a car as it breaks, or accelerates, etc…
Atomic Bomber is quite an addictive game that allows you to control a bomber with movements of your finger while various elements are moving on the ground underneath you. The aim is to destroy these tanks, vans, buildings, etc by dropping bombs. It is a fun way to learn about independence of vertical and horizontal components of velocity. It is also a nice way to show the importance of relative motion when an object below you is moving towards, or away from your moving plane.
Clever Contraptions is another fun Physics problem solving game that gives a good feel for motion and gravity.
These are just five interesting apps that could be used in the classroom and I have only downloaded the free versions because I believe they are perfectly adequate to illustrate some important points about Physics in a different way that could add to the engagement and understanding of some learners. There are thousands more apps in the Android Market that I am sure are very good and I would be very interested in hearing what your experience of them has been so far. What are your favourite apps for Education?