Interactive Protists Explorer

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Protists are fascinating organisms.  They are classified as separate from plants, animals and fungus.  Most protists are single-celled organisms with a nucleus and specialized cellular organelles that perform various functions.  I designed the Interactive Protist Explorer to help students learn the detailed information about how these fascinating organisms survive.

euglenaDetailed graphics show the structures that have been identified in each organism.  The euglena shown above has many interesting structures, for example, the stigma and a flagellum.  As students dive into the information they will discover the names of important organelles and also learn about the functions that these structures perform.

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Students can call up even more information by tapping buttons and swiping the screen.  When studying the euglena for example, they will learn how this amazing organism has some characteristics that make it like an animal and others that make it like a plant.  Like an animal it can move around in its environment.  Euglena move by making a whip-like motion with it flagellum.  Like a plant, the euglena can produce chemical energy through photosynthesis.  And again, like an animal, euglena have a primitive eye-like structure or photoreceptor that senses light.  And conveniently, light energy is needed for photosynthesis.

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Despite their diminutive size, protist can wreak havoc in the bodies of other organisms, including humans.  An infection of plasmodia in the human circulatory system can be deadly.  This disease, known as malaria, is spread when an infected, female Anopheles mosquito bites a human.  Plasmodia from the saliva of the mosquito are transferred when the bite occurs.  A detailed diagram, shown above, helps explain the Malaria Cycle.

Like the other apps in the Interactive Explorer series, teachers who use the app with students will like the comprehension quizzes that are available for each organism. For example a fill-in-the-blanks style quiz prompts students to key in the missing word in a sentence.

A true/false and multiple choice style quiz can also be selected as a follow-up to studying using other parts of the app.  Percentage scores for each quiz are reported on the screen.

Interactive Protist Explorer is available with a volume discount for educational institutions. Interactive Protist Explorer can be purchased worldwide exclusively through the Apple’s App Store.  It also available through Apple’s volume purchase program. Schools get a significant discount when purchasing multiple copies of Interactive Protist Explorer. Contact Apple Education for more information about the volume purchase program.  Please visit Ventura Educational Systems’website for more information about this and other iOS and tvOS apps for education.

Plant and Animal Cells

Cell structures and functions are fascinating.  Like a complex machine microstructures in cells work together to support life.  Chloroplasts are tiny factories found in plant cells that are powered by solar energy and convert that energy into chemical energy that in turn is able to support all life on earth.  The Plant and Animal Cells app introduces students to chloroplasts and many other fascinating structures found in plants.

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In addition to plant cells, the app presents the key structures and functions in animal cells.  For example, the nucleus or control center of the cell.  The nucleus regulates the functions of other microstructures in the cell.

While using the app students will read about cell structures in both plant and animal cells.  Teachers will like the comprehension quizzes that are available for each topic. For example a fill-in-the-blanks style quiz prompts students to key in the missing word in a sentence.

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A true/false and multiple choice style quiz can also be selected as a follow-up to studying using other parts of the app.  Percentage scores for each quiz are reported on the screen.

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The section on cell reproduction explains the key steps in the process.  A diagram is used to help students understand the various stages.

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Plant and Animal Cells is available with a volume discount for educational institutions. Plant and Animal Cells can be purchased worldwide exclusively through the Apple’s App Store.  It also available through Apple’s volume purchase program. Schools get a significant discount when purchasing multiple copies of Interactive Plant and Animal Cells. Contact Apple Education for more information about the volume purchase program.  Please visit Ventura Educational Systems’ website for more information about this and other iOS and tvOS apps for education.

Interactive Solar System Explorer

Ok, I admit it I am a Star Trek fan.  The series offered a very positive view of the future in contrast to many sci-fi stories where a dystopian view of the future is usually the theme.  For me, developing the Interactive Solar System Explorer was a lot of fun.  In recent years so much new information has been discovered about our solar system.  Robotic explorers are investigating many of the mysteries of Mars.  Probes have been sent to explore the outer planets and have sent back amazing images.

In designing the interface for the Interactive Solar System Explorer, I wanted to make it look like you were looking out the view screen of a spacecraft.  Lights flash and the stars whiz by as you travel from one planet to another.

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Initially the view screen shows the sun.  It zooms up into view as the app launches.

Tap buttons to select the planet that you wish to explore and then hit to red power button to ‘warp’ through the solar system.  When you arrive at your destination you can access information about the planet by tapping the icons at the bottom of the view screen.  The information available by tapping icons includes: mass of the planet, distance from the sun, the diameter of the planet, the length of a day in Earth days, and the length a year in Earth years.

Tap the info icon to bring up detailed information about the planet and to read about recent discoveries.

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Charts and graphs are used to present comparison information.

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In designing this app I wanted to motivate elementary age students to learn more about the solar system.  It is my intention that by using the Interactive Solar System Explorer on an iOS device or Apple TV teachers will be able to engage students science related activities that they will enjoy. The tvOS version of Interactive Solar System Explorer offers the same great features as the iOS version, and additionally can be controlled using tvOS compatible game controllers so maybe the kids will think they are playing a video game or even piloting a spaceship.

Interactive Solar System Explorer is available with a volume discount for educational institutions. Interactive Solar System Explorer is available worldwide exclusively through the Apple’s App Store.  It also available through Apple’s volume purchase program. Schools get a significant discount when purchasing multiple copies of Interactive Solar System Explorer. Contact Apple Education for more information about the volume purchase program.  Please visit Ventura Educational Systems’ website for more information about this and other iOS and tvOS apps for education.

Target 10 – Like a Word Search but with Numbers

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It is great fun when you have precocious grandchildren who have creative and inventive minds.  One of my grandkids is really into word search puzzles.  He loves finding the names of states, or capitals, or astronomy words, or anything else that might be the theme of a word search puzzle.  But the gears in that creative mind started spinning one day and he created a search type of puzzle with numbers.  The gist of the idea was to write an array of random numbers on graph paper and then pick a random target number and try to find numbers in the array that add up to the target number.  This concept gave birth to an iOS and tvOS app named Target 10.

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The screen above shows the main game board for Target 10.  The object of Target 10 is to earn 10 stars by finding sets of numbers in the grid that add up to the target number.

Target 10 offers four levels. On an iPad simply tap the Settings icon and then from a screen similar to the one show below, choose a level.  If you are using Apple TV you swipe to get to the Settings Icon and then swipe and click to choose a level.

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Automatically a new puzzle is generated at the level you selected.  Study the puzzle to find chains of numbers that add up to the target number.  There’s a fun little twist.  The position of any two numbers can be switched.  When you can’t find any more sets of numbers to make the target sum, try using the Switch icon to move numbers.  To do a switch tap the Switch icon and then navigate to the two numbers whose positions you want to switch. If you are still stuck, you can tap the New Board icon for a new grid.

Switch Icon                                                            New Board Icon

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Continue finding sets of numbers that add up to the target number until you have earned 10 stars.

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In designing this app I wanted to motivate elementary age students to get quicker at mental math.  It is my intention that by using Target 10 on your iOS device or Apple TV you will be able to engage students problem solving and strategic thinking activities that they will enjoy. The tvOS version of Target 10 offers the same great features as the iOS version, and additionally can be controlled using tvOS compatible game controllers so maybe the kids will think they are playing a video game.

Target 10 is available with a volume discount for educational institutions.  Target 10 is available worldwide exclusively through the Apple’s App Store.  It also available through Apple’s volume purchase program. Schools get a significant discount when purchasing multiple copies of Target 10. Contact Apple Education for more information about the volume purchase program.  Please visit Ventura Educational Systems’ website for more information about this and other iOS and tvOS apps for education.

Math Widgets IV Financial Literacy

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Finding out just how much things cost is a right of passage that all teenagers must go through as they transition into adulthood.  Math Widgets IV help students understand personal finances by presenting four typical scenarios that involve savings accounts, automobile purchases, home purchases and using credit cards.

screen_2Cartoon characters pop up while using the app in order to set up a scenario involving personal financial decisions.

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Rather than performing difficult calculations, the app is more about deciding which numbers should be used in the formulas.  Help screens give some background information for the various calculations.

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Numbers are entered into fields. Calculations for missing values are performed by moving the target to the desired field.

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Tapping the ‘info’ button reveals the formula used for the target calculation.

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Math Widgets are offered exclusively by the iTunes App Store and sell for $1.99.  Please visit our website for more information about these and other apps for education.

More Widgets

Once I got started designing the Math Widgets series I realized it was going to be a lot of fun.  The study of mathematics is an immensely broad topic and for kids who are really into math it is wonderful if a teacher can provide enrichment experiences that introduce new ideas and concepts that go beyond “what’s on the test”.  The Math Widgets series is a collection of tools with these kids and teachers in mind.

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Math Widgets III explores some special concepts in number theory.  For example, the Multibase Abacus piques one’s interest in alternative number systems.  What if we only had 8 fingers instead of 10?  Would we use a base 8 system?  With the Multibase Abacus students can investigate base 8 and any other base from 2 to 10.

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On the Multibase Abacus, numbers are represented by tapping beads to add or subtract values from the columns of various place value systems.  In the example below we are showing a base 5 system.  Starting on the right we have the ones place labeled with 50.  Moving to the left we have 5’s, 25’s, 125’s, 625’s etc.  Tapping one of the column labels results in a bubble showing the value of the place in base 10.  In the quiz mode students are challenged to represent randomly selected numbers in randomly selected bases.  Quite a few skills come into play when trying to answer the questions posed by the Multibase Abacus, including: estimation, addition, subtraction, multiplication and using exponents.

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Clock Arithmetic is another topic in math that is perfect for an enriched curriculum.  Whenever we divide two integers there is always a remainder (sometimes it’s zero).  Clock Arithmetic is a widget that encourages student’s to explore this concept which is known as Modular Arithmetic.  In programming languages there is a special operator used to signify the modulus function.  If a=7 and b=3 then in computer code a%b returns 1 since one is the remainder when 7 is divided by 3.  Sometimes the word ‘mod’ is used instead of the “%” symbol to describe this calculation, for example 15 mod 12 is equal to 3.  In the example below, tapping the 2 is the correct response.

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Once in a while, but rarely, you might find a newspaper article about a mathematician solving a problem or finding a proof that has been elusive for hundreds of years.  For example, the conjecture  that no three positive integers ab, and c satisfy the equation an + bn = cn for any integer value of n greater than 2. The cases n = 1 and n = 2 have been known to have infinitely many solutions since antiquity.  First conjectured by Pierre de Fermat in 1637, this theorem had been the focus of study by mathematician for centuries and was finally proven in 1995 by Andrew Wiles.  Goldbach’s Conjecture has never been proven. It was first posed in a letter from Goldbach to Euler in 1742.  The conjecture posits that every even integer greater than 2 can be expressed as the sum of two primes.  Use the Goldbach’s Conjecture widget to explore this idea by finding the primes whose sum is the given even numbers.

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The Hexagon Arithmetic Widget is a six number system that uses emojis as the symbols.  Counting moves in a clockwise direction around the hexagon.  The object is to complete the addition table using logic to figure out the pattern.

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Math Widgets I, II and III are offered exclusively by the iTunes App Store and sell for $1.99 each.  Educational discounts are available for schools.  Please visit our website for more information about these and other apps for education.

 

Math Widgets & Math Widgets II

There are two definitions for the term widget.  First, a widget is a small gadget or mechanical device that performs a useful function. In this context, the term is often applied to a device where the actual name is unknown or unspecified.  Second, a widget is an application, or component of an interface, that enables a user to do something special, for example perform a useful function or access special information.  Math Widgets fit both definitions.  The Math Widgets apps are collections of math tools that provide opportunities to explore a variety of important math concepts.  Some of the concepts extend the K-8 math curriculum laterally and therefore these apps are particularly useful for teachers who are looking to provide enrichment.

Let’s take a look and the first Math Widgets app.  This app is available for both iPad and Apple TV and includes four widgets: Slide Rule, Fraction Action, Integers and Coordinate Grid.

screen_1With the advent of calculators and computers, obviously the need for a slide rule has diminished, if not, virtually vanished, but what fun for kids to learn the basic idea of a slide rule by manipulating a virtual slide rule on their iPad or Apple TV.  In addition to representing the meaning of two fundamental math concepts: adding and subtracting,  the slide rule gives teachers an opportunity to discuss some of other historical tools used to help people do math for example the abacus or Napier’s Bones.  (See Abacus Deluxe and Napier’s Bones)

screen_2The operation of the Slide Rule widget is straightforward. The widget presents a problem in the middle of the screen and challenges the student to show the answer using the slide rule.  Addition and subtraction problems are presented.

screen_4The Integers widget uses a number line to help students understand operations with positive and negative numbers.  A problem is presented and the student is challenged to slide the marker to show the answer.  When slid in a positive direction a blue bar appears on the number line.  A red bar is used to show movement in the negative direction.  By using this app student will develop a better understanding of basic operations with integers.

screen_3Fraction Action provides an interactive widget for learning about equivalent fractions.  A fraction is randomly selected and displayed as a numerator over a denominator. It is also shown as parts of a circle.  The challenge for the student is to move the indicator along the fraction ruler to select the equivalent fraction.

screen_5The Coordinate Grid widget is designed to help students learn to locate points on a standard Cartesian plane.  The x and y axes and the quadrants are labelled.  The student is given a coordinate pair and is challenged to find the corresponding point on grid by moving a slider.

The first Math Widgets app seemed so useful that I thought I would do another one so I developed Math Widgets II.

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Math Widgets II has 4 widgets:  Multibase Chart, Arrow Math, Tinker Totals and Peg Puzzle Party.  While studying number systems other than Base 10 might not be a critical part of the standard elementary curriculum, it is a fun enrichment idea for teachers who are looking to extend the curriculum for certain students. Multibase Chart provides an interesting experience in representing numbers using different bases.

screen_2In this example the computer has challenged the student to represent 19 in Base 8.  The red slider has be moved to isolate all the possible two digit numbers in Base 8.  Since 2 x 8 + 3 = 19, the correct answer is 23.   The correct answer is located at column D, row C.  Tapping this cell results in a positive reinforcement message and increase in score.

screen_3Success in mathematics and many other areas of study involves the skill of being able to follow a specific set of instructions.  Arrow Math provides an opportunity to practice two skills, the ability to carefully follow a set of instructions and also the meaning of an inverse operation.  Arrow Math provides teachers with a visual way to talk about inverse operations which are important in the study of mathematics.  When using this widget ask students questions such as ‘What is the inverse of moving to the right?’ or ‘What is the inverse of moving down and left?’.

screen_4The Tinker Totals widget creates number puzzles where the object is to arrange number given into the cells of a pattern so that the numbers along each line add to the same sum.

screen_5Peg Puzzle Party is a logical thinking puzzle where the challenge is to end up with the least number of pegs on the board.  A move consist of pick a peg and jumping over another peg to land in an open space.  When a peg is selected the available moves are highlighted in green.  Peg Puzzle Party is a fun way to exercise your brain and can be used to help students develop strategic thinking skills.

Math Widgets and Math Widgets II are offered exclusively by the iTunes App Store and sells for $1.99.  Please visit our website for more information about these and other apps for education.