Fourth grade is a time when students need to get serious about science. Classroom science emphasizes data collection and measurement, observation, and the scientific method. In other words, kids need to learn to think like scientists. That shouldn’t take the fun out of science learning, though! Let some of these apps help your fourth grader stay delighted with science!
Physics, Chemistry, & How the World Works
The Everything Machine by TinyBop
TinyBop Inc. – $2.99
Did you know that your iPad can turn into a stop-motion camera or a kaleidoscope? There are dozens of unique things that can be created using your device’s built-in tools and sensors. This app uses coding and circuitry concepts to guide fourth graders in putting their devices to new and creative uses. Who can resist building a “cookie-thief-catcher”?
Kids can make loads of machines using the free downloadable instruction manual, then they can take off in their own directions to let their creativity shine. Your fourth grade tinkerer will not be disappointed!
FreeCloud Design, Inc. – $1.99
This award-winning app allows fourth graders to explore physics by building fantastic machines. There are 68 parts to work with, including wings, cannons, magnets, propellors, wheels, and many others. The app allows young inventors to install the parts in several different ways, such as welding or drawing a rope or chain between them.
Once the machine has been created, Monster Physics’ incredible rendering engine actually brings the machine to life in the app for the inventor to operate. Kids can see first-hand if their creation works as intended.
Bobo Explores Light
Game Collage LLC – $4.99
The friendly robot, Bobo, will help your fourth grader learn all about light in this award-winning app. It includes over 100 pages of interactive content about nearly every concept related to light. With 21 topics available, it’s hard to have a question that is not answered in this app.
The app uses a combination of teaching videos, interactive activities, and hands-on experiments to teach about lasers, lightning, bioluminescence and more. It’s engaging and entertaining, and kids will want to come back for more.
Ziconic – $1.99
Fourth graders are at about the perfect age for roller coasters out in the real world. This app is perfect for helping them connect coasters to physics. Before they know it, they will be learning about force, speed, acceleration, and more. Coaster Physics will let them create and share the most outrageous tracks with their friends via email or supported applications. They can try out their creations, even using old-school cardboard 3-D glasses to enhance the view.
Parents will be pleased to note that the app does not save user-generated content and that it does not require an internet connection to work. It’s completely child-safe and appropriate for home or classroom use.
Nay Games LLC – Free with in-app purchases
This app features 48 free levels that will get your fourth grader addicted to this physics puzzle game. Kids can learn about how to experiment and use their creativity to solve problems with this app. The challenge is to build a contraption from the available materials and pieces and use powerups to get the bubble to do exactly what you need it to do.
An in-app purchase of ninety-nine cents will open up even more puzzles. Kids will love learning about logic, planning, and prediction skills that are so critical to scientific thinking.
Ecology, Plants, Animals, & Nature
easyLearn Structure of the Earth
Anu Vasuki – $2.99
Engage in 15 interactive lessons that cover loads of Earth science concepts that fourth graders need to understand in class. Using this app, they can discover concepts about the interior of the earth, how plate tectonics works, what makes volcanoes, and much more. There are three modes: learn which offers pictures and facts about each topic, practice where kids can answer questions in a low-pressure way (no limit on answer tries), and quiz where students can use interactive activities such as drag and drop or matching to show what they’ve learned.
With all the different kinds of interactive activities, there’s a learning mode here that is perfect for your child. The app includes opportunities to solve puzzles, sort information based on clues, answer trivia questions, and more.
DIY Lake Science
The Lawrence Hall of Science – Free
Fourth graders can explore virtual lakes to discover all the details about how this ecosystem works. This app offers videos and other learning experiences that teach about the plants, animals, and interactions in lakes around the world. It also includes lake simulations that help children understand how lakes of different sizes and in different climates operate.
The app also includes a dozen hands-on activities and experiments that nearly anyone can do. They use common, inexpensive supplies. The activities will deepen and broaden kids’ understanding of how lake ecosystems work.
Pines to Vines – the Forest Biome
Mobile Education Store LLC – $9.99
This app showcases the great things about digital learning. Fourth graders can learn all about the forest biome by exploring the pages of this digital textbook. It features tons of supportive technology that makes it accessible even to students with special needs while engaging and informative to everyone. Kids will learn about all of the different types of forests around the world in different climate zones. There are six huge chapters and dozens of tests to make sure kids’ learning is on track.
Pines to Vines takes the next step in digital learning. It’s a perfect supplement to classroom learning or homeschool science, or great for any kid with a drive to learn about nature.
AVOKIDDO – $2.99
This playful app will introduce your fourth grade student to basic science concepts about DNA and genetics. They get to build monsters! Players “build” their monsters by manipulating their DNA and helping them “evolve.” And once the monsters are created and built, the kids get to play with them in all sorts of ways. Make the monsters move and do things, and try out different actions.
The possibilities are nearly endless and kids can create over TWO BILLION different kinds of creatures by combining the parts in different ways. The app represents learning through play at its finest. And parents can rest assured that the app is totally child-friendly. There are no outside advertisements or in-app purchases to worry about.
My Incredible Body
Visible Body – $24.99 with in-app purchases
Fourth graders can learn all about the human body and its systems in this award-winning app. Medically accurate 3D models and pictures of the organs are a hallmark of this app. Kids can focus on whatever system interests them, like the skeleton or the brain, and find out just how it works. The app includes engaging activities and quizzes to help students see just how much they’ve learned.
The app enables young scientists to do virtual dissections, to “see” inside organs as they function, and more. The in-app purchase option is the reproductive system for ninety-nine cents, designed to help parents jump-start appropriate conversations about puberty.
Astronomy, Stars, & Outer Space
Sky Map Devs – Free
This app turns your Android device into a hand-held planetarium. Just point your screen at the sky and see what’s up there! You can manually enter your location or use the device’s GPS system to pinpoint the stars and planets overhead.
The app works best with an internet connection but does not require one to use some of the features. One interesting capability is finding objects in the sky that you are looking for.
Fifth Star Labs LLC – $2.99 with in-app purchases
Sky Guide takes full advantage of your Apple device’s location and other tools to show the features of the sky above your head. It also has some interesting features that may put it a cut above similar apps if they interest your fourth grader. For example, the app can notify you of real-time events such as the International Space Station passing overhead. It also includes a low-light mode where the light from your device is minimized to preserve night vision.
The app includes a significant star catalog that gives information on over two million night sky objects. There is an optional in-app purchase ($29.99) that expands on that catalog and adds some amazing zoom capabilities so your young astronomer can probe the deepest depths of the night sky beyond what is normally visible.
Solar Walk-Planets Explorer
Vito Technology Inc. – $4.99 with in-app purchases
This 3D model of our solar system gives fourth graders a chance to interact with the planets and other features that they are learning about in class. All of the planets and other parts are accurately placed in real-time, which is quite a feat! The app also includes a mode where students can turn back time, and see what the solar system looked like in the past.
In-app purchases range from ninety-nine cents to $4.99 and include options for instructional videos about specific outer space topics and milestones, like various rocket missions.
Star Light- Explore the Stars
Gyrocade – Ninety-Nine Cents
Fourth graders can use this app to see the stars in real-time on their devices. The app provides extensive information about each star and includes 88 constellations visible in the western sky. The powerful zoom feature lets young astronomers even examine planets and distant star clusters.
The app is easy and intuitive to use. Just point the device to the sky and let the computer work its magic. Users will be able to see all there is to see above them and get instant information about each thing they can see.
NASA – Free
Find out anything and everything about space with the world-wide experts from NASA. This app offers an up-to-the-minute look at the information that NASA shares with the public. There are pictures, videos, and even access to NASA TV. New content is added daily.
Your seriously-scientific space explorer will love the opportunities presented by this app. There are even streaming videos from experiments up on the International Space Station. It also aggregates NASA’s various social media feeds.
DIY Real-World & Virtual Experiments
DIY Sun Science
The Lawrence Hall of Science – Free
Here are over a dozen hands-on activities that will help kids learn about the sun. This app is funded by NASA and has been designed by experts and educators to pack tons of learning into a few activities. Parents will be tickled by the ease of the activities, and the fact that the materials needed are inexpensive and readily available.
The app also includes a sun observatory where kids can discover loads of other information, as well as video content that will help them learn. New content and updated information are uploaded daily, as well, so kids will have access to the most up-to-the-minute information about the sun that is possible.
Scott Dubois – Free
This app isn’t quite so hands-on as the rest in this section, but it will give fourth-graders a close look at the lives of some scientists. Set up in comic/graphic novel format, the author gives kids a close look at the biographies of three scientists from long ago (during the Scientific Revolution in Europe.
Kids will enjoy the illustrated stories and will learn just what those scientists contributed so long ago. Each page of the interactive ebook includes animations and narration to enhance reading comprehension.
Toca Lab: Elements
Toca Boca AB – $3.99
What a fabulous introduction to the elements and the periodic table for younger students! The app gives each element its own unique personality, and playfully lets young scientists learn about it with a virtual centrifuge, a bunsen burner, a cooling agent, an oscilloscope, and more.
The app is a nice mix of scientifically accurate and whimsically fanciful. Kids will get a good introduction to elemental science while having a load of fun with the animated characters.
Science Lab for Kids
Juan B and Juan H Android Development – Free
With over 20 hands-on real-world science experiments, this app will keep your kids occupied for quite some time. This collection of kitchen science features common household supplies and clear directions that won’t take too much adult help-just a bit of supervision. From the classic vinegar and baking soda volcano to more unusual experiments like floating eggs, there’s something here for most kids to enjoy and learn from.
Parents should be aware, however, that this app does serve advertisements. It would be a good idea to preview it and make sure it is appropriate for your child.
Curiosity.com – Free with in-app purchases
This app will have just about anything needed to satisfy your fourth grader’s curiosity about the world of science. It offers a huge searchable collection of articles and videos about nearly any science topic. Whether your student is interested in psychology, astronomy, chemistry, or something else entirely, there’s content here to answer those questions.
The collection is searchable, and you can narrow the topics by category. It’s possible to like and save your favorites and share them. Parents should be aware that there are some in-app purchases and outside advertisements, though.