Rice University’s SciRave has had students dancing to the beat of science for a couple of years. Now mobile versions of the program have them dancing with their fingers.
STEMscopes, a K-12 science curriculum based at Rice, has released six new apps to teach science to youngsters through games and songs. They are available for Android devices through Google Play and for the iPad through Apple’s App Store.
SciRave, first developed by Rice chemist James Tour with the support of the National Science Foundation, combines the power of music, the fun of tactile learning and the world of science in a series of fast-paced games.
“Students can sing along to science songs while matching a series of moving arrows with destination targets,” said Reid Whitaker, director of STEMscopes and executive director of the Rice Center for Digital Learning and Scholarship. “It’s a meeting of kinesthetic learning and music packed with science content.”
As students dive into the apps, they learn standards-based vocabulary through interaction tailored to diverse learning styles. “We envision the app being used in center-based instruction, as an intervention tool and for home enrichment as well as a cross-curricular connection to music, theater and dance classes,” Whitaker said. “In addition, the app is particularly useful with English-language learners and special-needs students, who often struggle to learn and retain new science content.”
The apps cover physical, Earth and life science for grades K-five, but plans are in the works for apps that address students in grades six to eight.
STEMscopes has found great success in Texas. From its beginning less than two years ago, the program has become the top online science curriculum in Texas, with more than 1.2 million student users.