Budding scientists rejoice! These four nonfiction apps use cutting-edge technology, from x-ray composites to 3D imaging, to explore biology, paleontology, and archeology in educational and entertaining ways.
Bats! Furry Fliers of the Night introduces users to the world’s only flying mammal. Mary Kay Carson, author of Scientists in the Field entry The Bat Scientists, presents accessible information in seven brief chapters covering physiology, species, habitats, echolocation, and more. Several pop-up windows per chapter explore the topics in greater depth. Interactive elements, such as a seek-and-find activity, are gracefully integrated. Crisp close-up photographs and realistic digital illustrations complement the text. (Bookerella and Story Worldwide, 6–10 years)
Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence, developed by New York City’s American Museum of Natural History in conjunction with its exhibit of the same name, offers a five-chapter introduction to bioluminescence and a brief overview of its many forms. In addition to high-quality, eerily beautiful photos, each section features maps, diagrams, and videos. A clean design, straightforward navigation, and atmospheric instrumental music support the app’s content. (American Museum of Natural History, 8–12 years)
Dr. Lee R. Berger and Marc Aronson’s The Skull in the Rock: How a Scientist, a Boy, and Google Earth Opened a New Window on Human Origins chronicles Berger’s exploration of collapsed caves in South Africa and the eventual excavation of two skeletons of a previously unknown hominin, giving paleontologists a better understanding of human evolution. With expanded illustrative material, such as zoom-able photos and maps as well as a 360-degree skull reconstruction, this electronic edition kicks its print counterpart up a notch. (National Geographic, 8–12 years)
Pyramids 3D: Wonders of the Old Kingdom presents a virtual odyssey through the ancient monuments of the Giza Plateau. Remarkably realistic computer models transport users inside the dim corridors of tombs and pyramids. 3D imaging and zoom capabilities allow for 360-degree rotation of objects, from an opening aerial shot of the famous necropolis right down to close-ups of forty of its most precious artifacts. Dr. Zahi Hawass’s ten-chapter text on the archeological history of the site and brief audio introductions to each point of interest successfully supplement the visuals. (Touch Press LLP, 11–13 years)