How To Make Electricity

Crayon Box. 2015. iOS, requires 6.0 or later. Version 2.1. $2.99.
Gr 4–7—Have your students ever tried generating electricity with a nail, a copper key, and a can of cola? Electricity offers this experience (and others) without the necessity of purchasing supplies. Divided into four laboratories, the app allows users to simulate electricity through batteries as well as hydroelectric and thermal power, and solar generation.Each lab begins with a brief tutorial; users follow prompts to explore the variables in the experimental setup. The tutorials are all text-based, which makes the app less accessible for struggling readers. After each one, users are challenged to design a configuration that will generate the most electricity. For example, in the thermal power lab, students attach a magnet to a pinwheel, and then test the results using different fuels, such as coal, paper, and wood. They can also alter the shape of the coil, change the placement of the pinwheel, and swap in different devices and appliances such as a fan, a lightbulb, or speakers. Users are awarded a "Discovery" when they create lab conditions that demonstrate an important principle. The attractive and colorful graphics will immediately engage viewers. An especially thorough and well-designed "Parents Guide" translates well to a classroom setting, providing suggestions of questions and discussion topics and introductory lessons and activities that pair with the four labs.
VERDICT The app is well suited as an accompaniment to upper elementary or middle school classrooms studying electricity.

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