Review: Four Cool Augmented Reality Science Apps

Augmented Reality is the term used by apps which overlay content on top of real world objects. Imagine viewing a textbook page through your iPad and the pictures come to life with sound and animations.

This can have some great educational uses. From bringing spacecraft or animals into the classroom, to bringing worksheets to life with interactive 3D models.

The tech is still in its infancy. At the moment you still need to view things through some kind of device – a tablet, phone or webcam. Can you imagine what this would be like when viewed through something like Google Glass? But that’s something for the future.

There’s many different apps out there, but here are a few of my favourites that could be used to teach Science.

Elements 4D

Elements 4D is an AR chemistry app for iOS and Android devices which provides a fun way to look at various different chemical reactions.

The app uses blocks that are inscribed with the symbols of 36 elements from the periodic table. The site will eventually sell ready-made cubes, but you can download paper templates for free here.

When viewed through the app, these blocks instantly transform a simple, inanimate object into dynamic, dimensional, 4D representations of each element. Place them close together and they’ll react!

You can read more on Elements 4D here

Elements 4D


ZooKazam is a fun app for IOS that allows you to bring wild animals into the classroom without all the mess and inevitable legal action. When the targets are viewed through the app, an animal will magically appear. You could get a whale on your desk, or a hippo in your school hall!

If you are teaching about animals with your class then this is an app well worth getting. Children could create images of different habitats, and then use the target to bring the correct animal into the scene. They could create images of different animals and then label them to show their main features – use them for classification. It could even be used as a prompt for creative writing.

You can read more about ZooKazam here

Nasa Spacecraft 3D

NASA’s Spacecraft 3D is a free app for iOS devices that lets you learn about and interact with a variety of spacecraft that are used by NASA to explore our solar system, study Earth, and observe the universe.

The app includes Curiosity, Hubble, Cassini and more!  Hold your iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch up and point it at the marker and the spacecraft will appear. Choose from different animations to show how different parts of the craft work – such as Curiosity’s robot arm or antenna unfurl.

You can read more about Spacecraft 3D here

Anatomy 4D 1

Anatomy 4D

Anatomy 4D is a very cool free app which allows you to explore an augmented reality 3D body. The app provides models of the human body as well as an interactive heart. You can peel back the layers on the body to see the different systems, such as the skeleton.

You can read more on Anatomy 4D here.

If you’ve got any other favourite AR apps, please share them in the comments below!


Danny Nicholson is an author, Science teacher, ICT Consultant, PGCE lecturer and Computing / Interactive Whiteboard Trainer. He has delivered training courses across the UK, in Europe, and in Canada.
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This article originally appeared on Danny’s White Boarding blog here. Republished under creative commons license.

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