iOS Science Apps #1

Apps for science educators and learners

Apps That Engage, Enable & Inspire

I'm always on the lookout for apps which can make science learning fun, easier, more engaging, relevant, accessible and helpful to both teachers and their learners. Here is my first collection of helpful apps for iPhone/iPad which hopefully do just that (for Android users, there are often comparable apps available so hopefully this will provide some inspiration to go and find them if nothing else - feel free to add them in the comments section!).

Lesson Ideas


The use of Cardiio could be compared to the use of other methods of measuring pulse to review the effectiveness of each method and the level of accuracy and error experienced. Typical heart rate lessons / investigations include:


Measure resting heart rate before and 15 mins after consuming a caffeine rich drink like Cola - best performed double blind so get the technician to prepare the cups marked A / B one for caffeinated and the other decaff.


Comparing heart rates before and after exercise and rate at which pulse returns to resting pulse is often used as a measure of fitness. You could also see if there is a direct link between the rate of breathing and the pulse both before and after exercise.



Instead of measuring the distance from the source of light and comparing this with the number of bubbles or volume of oxygen generated per minute by pond weed (elodea), use Lightmeter to give you a true measure of light intensity in Lux/kLux (it is the light intensity rather than the distance that is the independent variable). Watch a quick demonstration of this on the SAPs video below:

Ecology - Leaf Size

Measure the light intensity at different locations throughout a woodland and compare this with the size (average surface area) of nettle leaves. Clearly this needs to be done at the same time / under constant light (ie no clouds or even cloud coverage) although increasing the sample frequency can help to increase the reliability / reproducability of the date / investigation. Selecting leaves from the same location on the nettle stems is also an important consideration when collecting valid data.

Using a Lightmeter App to Investigate Rates of Photosynthesis

dB Meter Pro

Sound Pollution

Measure distance from a road and compare this with background noise levels - use either average level over a period of time or peak level depending on investigation focus. Distance is probably best measured with a click wheel with this investigation.

Press the button in the middle to turn meter on and off as required.

A similar investigation could look at sound level change with distance from a city centre or industrial location - in these cases results could be added to a google map or plotted on and using an ordnance survey map.


In DT, the sound insulating properties of materials could be measured, as could the noise levels of equipment used, highlighting the importance of protective equipment in respect of your hearing when using drills / saws etc.


More science lesson stuff: when studying sound or particulate nature of matter you could measure how the sound transmitted from an alarm bell within a bell jar changes as the air is extracted using a vacuum pump (possibly a bit tricky given the noise the vacuum pump usually generates - maybe you could try putting your iPhone in the bell jar and measuring the decreasing volume transmitted into it from the vacuum pump!?).

About me

Jon Haines

Secondary Science Initial Teacher Trainer / Lecturer

Newcastle University