A new Android app from Google is aiming to turn kids’ smartphones into mobile
recorders to help them become more engaged in the scientific process. Called Science Journal, the app acts as a digital science notebook to help kids measure the world around them.
Kids can use the app to record data from sensors on their Android phones or through connected Arduino devices, take notes, observe, interpret, and make predictions, according to the company.
The app allows users to gather data collected through the sensors on their Android devices, such as the accelerometer and microphone, to measure aspects of the environment, such as light and sound. Users can graph data, record experiments, and organize questions and ideas. The app can also make use of external sensors that can be attached to a smartphone.
Making Science Fun
Google said it has teamed up with the Exploratorium, a science education advocacy group in San Francisco, to design and construct a number of different sensor and learning activity kits that can be used in conjunction with the Science Journal app.
The group has already created some science activities on Google’s makingscience.withgoogle.com Web site, such as demonstrating how to build a wind spinner and how to use the Android’s sensors to measure its rotation.
The kits include inexpensive sensors, microcontrollers, and craft supplies to augment the capabilities of the app. The kits will be available for purchase in the U.S. or they can be assembled by parents or children, according to Google.
Science and Education Initiatives
“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,” the company wrote on its Google For Education blog. “We know that hands-on projects increase engagement, cultivate curiosity and spark a lifelong interest in learning.”
To support that goal, Google said it has already released the firmware code for the apps’ microcontroller on GitHub, and will be open-sourcing the app later this summer. In addition, the company is actively looking for hardware vendors, and educational partners to collaborate on future improvements to the app.
The app is part of Google’s Making & Science initiative, an effort by the company to encourage children to engage with science and engineering at a young age. The initiative has included other efforts such as Google Field Trip Days, when the company organizes field trips for students to their local science museums, and Google Science Fair, a global online science and engineering competition for children and teams ages 13 to 18 that awards up to $50,000 in scholarship money for winners.
Image Credit: Screenshots of Making & Science App via Google.