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New Educational Apps of the Month

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We're starting a new monthly feature here at MindShift, a round-up of new educational apps released or updated over the course of the month. This list is a combination of Android, iPhone, and Web applications that have caught our eye. If we've forgotten any of your favorites, let us know in the comments.


The Smithsonian Institution and MIT VANISHED is an 8-week online/offline environmental disaster mystery game for middle-school children, meant to inspire engagement and problem solving through science. Developed by the MIT's Education Arcade and by the Smithsonian Institution, VANISHED encourages participants to investate an environmental disaster by using real scientific methods, by visiting museums and collecting samples from their neighborhoods, and by participating in online challenges. (Free, Web, Middle School)



The perennial children's favorite book Pat the Bunny is now an iPhone and iPad app. The book is well-known for its sensory experiences, and clearly those have been updated and transformed to work with a touchscreen device (and if you have a front-facing camera, the "mirror" page uses the camera instead). The app can be set to read aloud, with words highlighted as the text is read. Or adults can record their own voices to accompany the book. ($1.99, iOS, Pre-K)


GoodieWords released an update to its iOS app, offering a whole new set of vocabulary words. The GoodieWords app is geared toward toddlers who are in their "What is it?" stage, but it explains words that parents might otherwise find difficult to define, like fingerprint, shadow, time, and dream. The app is colorful and engaging, with games and storybook narration. ($4.99, iOS, Pre-K)


The top ranked kids' site for free videos, PBS KIDS launched a new series of online videos, Play-Along Videos, that combines video shorts and interactive game-play. The new feature includes two videos, "Dinosaur Train" and "Super Why." The former focuses on dinosaur knowledge and science; the latter on literacy. PBS KIDS says it plans to launch another video featuring The Cat in the Hat in early 2012. (Free, Web, Pre-K)


A free app to help you study for AP Calculus and for the SATs, Intellective: Calculus offers audio/whiteboard lectures, short quizzes, and lab simulations. The app has a great design, about 20 calculus lessons, and takes full advantage of the multi-touch interface on the iPad. (Free, iOS, High School)


Created by History and A&E, the Civil War Today iPad app offers daily updates, chronicling the events that occurred 150 years ago. The app includes newspaper headlines as well as personal letters and diaries. There are videos and maps (including period maps) and a daily count of casualities on both the North and the South. ($7.99, iOS, Middle and High School)


Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have released HMH Fuse: Algebra 1 for iPad. The app contains the core algebra curriculum, as well as instructional videos, interactive demos, vocabulary, quizzes, homework help, and a graphing calculator. There is a free trial version, but you'll need to purchase an upgrade to unlock all the content. Read more about the app in schools. ($59.99, iOS, High School)


It's actually hard to select just one of Duck Duck Moose's award-winning apps to feature here. The company recently won three Parents' Choice Awards, including a Silver Award for Park Math. The app contains a number of math games for preschoolers that help teach concepts like addition and subtraction and help boost counting and sorting skills. ($1.99, iOS, Pre-K)


The female-run video game studio Silicon Sisters has released its first game aimed at girls, School 26. The game is set in school and the goal is to make as many social connections as possible, navigating the sticky, awkward and sometimes awful moral dilemmas of school. These challenges range from struggles to peer pressure, romance, betrayal, alienation, acceptance - all real and relevant situations that girls face every day. The gameplay involves the player selecting the appropriate emotional responses to certain scenarios and answering quizzes that provide insights into players' personalities. The emphasis here is on empathy and networking. ($2.99, iOS/Android, Middle-School)


The digital content and social learning platform Xplana has released an Android app, giving students full access to Xplana’s study features (notes, videos, flashcards etc). Xplana organizes the academic experience by grouping all resources into one convenient place, focused on the needs of the learner. (Free, Android, College)


Digital textbook publisher CourseSmart launched an Android app (Android Market link). One of the largest providers of digital content, the CourseSmart app gives Android users access to an in-app bookstore containing about 90% of all required college textbooks. (Free, Android, College)

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