With the sheer number of apps out there, it's rare that a new one feels like it's bringing something new to the table and offering something exciting. The new Science Journal app from Google is one of those rare exceptions.
The app, built for Android phones, aims to motivate kids and adults alike to engage scientifically with the world around them, hopefully inspiring the next generation of scientists and makers. The apps lets users record, measure, explore, interpret and predict with the built-in sensors of the smartphone or with an optional Arduino-based kit.
The Science Journal takes advantage of the phone's accelerometer, light sensor, microphone and more to record data, set up trials, experiments and projects and then graphs and visualizes the results.
Google also teamed up with the Exploratorium -- an interactive science education museum in San Francisco -- to develop add-on kits that work with the app. Kids can use the kits that include microcontrollers, craft supplies and inexpensive sensors to carry out different activities using the Science Journal app.
Users can purchase the kits or just use them as inspiration to build their own from what they have at home. For example, one of the kits includes things like balloons, rubber bands, magnets, a ruler and sand paper -- all things that you might have around the house, but the kit comes with a guide telling you how to use these things to build simple machines to use in experiments with the app. All of the kits also include additional electronics to expand the scope of the app.
One of the cooler things that Google is doing with Science Journal is making it completely open source so that it truly can be used as an educational and creative tool.
Google's Education blog explained, "We’re excited to nurture an open ecosystem where people everywhere can use Science Journal to create their own activities, integrate their own sensors and even build kits of their own. To that end, we have released the microcontroller firmware code on GitHub and will be open sourcing the Android app later this summer. We’re eager to work with hardware vendors, science educators and the open source community to continue improving Science Journal."
The video below shows how the app can be used in schools to teach kids about science and give them hands on experiences.