Wednesday 14 August 2013

#ReadItMD13 Theme Week - "Space and the Stars" - Five great apps to give your mini space explorers a rocket boost

This week on ReadItDaddy, as part of our #ReadItMD13 weekly themes we're looking at all things stratospheric. Today we'll be looking at apps and games that can pique the curiosity of your mini space explorers, and get them looking at the 'great out-there' in a whole new way.

Starting with the fabulous official NASA app, here's the chance to get a direct insight into what the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are up to.

With links out to various web resources, and a whole ton of truly beautiful space images, the app is absolutely free to download for iOS and Android platforms.

(NASA App iOS version on iTunes)

Sticking with NASA for a while, here's an app that lets you dig in to some great images, facts and figures on one of NASA's most exciting current missions, the Mars Curiosity Rover.

Mars Curiosity Rover (NASA)
Available on Android platforms, the Curiosity (Mars Rover) app features 3D renders of the rover itself, plus updated images from the Rover's various on-board cameras. Celebrating a year on the red planet, it's one of the most fascinating missions NASA has ever undertaken and the app is a great way to find out a little bit more about our six-wheeled friend digging through the rocks and dirt on Mars.

It's worth checking out NASA's official Mars Rover website too.

Mobile Phones and Tablets are great platforms to help children to explore the stars interactively. There are tons and tons of astronomy apps but one of the best we've seen is the Skyview App from Terminal 11.

Skyview helps children recognise the constellations with some brilliant Augmented Reality (AR) ways of tracking stars, planets and man-made spacefaring objects like the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station as they orbit earth.

There are various versions of the app but the free version has plenty of content and though you have the option to upgrade to the pro version, you might prefer to see how your children get on with the 'lite' version first.

Skyview (iOS on iTunes)

More NASA apps, this time concentrating on 30 years of the Space Shuttle mission program.

With tons of images, and narration by none other than Captain Kirk himself (William Shatner), it's a fact-filled free app that covers shuttle missions from 1981 to 2011.

From Challenger to Atlantis, showing all the technical details and mission parameters for the world's first reusable space vehicle, it's fascinating to flick through for both adults and children alike.

Space Shuttle - 30 Years Shuttlebook (iOS on iTunes)

Last but by no means least here's a novel approach to space exploration for preschoolers, in the shape of a game / app from Dom Conlon over at Inkology.

"Jetpack Journeys: Space Exploration for Preschoolers" is an app that Dom wrote to help his son learn a little bit more about space without having to wade through tons of dry technical text. With the solar system to explore, a range of colourful playable characters to choose and even the chance to build your own rocketships to explore with, it's an engaging app for youngsters - and we've got a full and more detailed review of it coming up on the blog as part of our space week tomorrow at 10.30. Be there or be square!

Jetpack Journeys (iOS on iTunes)