Over the past year, we have received a lot of inquiries from teachers and parents wanting access to our app content as well asking for availability on other platforms besides the iPad.
We are excited to announce the opening of the Sprout Labs Store!
Starting today, you can buy powerpoint presentations of the the Sprout Labs app content. These presentations have around 50 pages per topic and include photos and curated videos. Our content is also available on Teachers Pay Teachers.
We are working to launch several new products in the coming months and toward making all Sprout Labs content accessible on other platforms including Android, Chrome and the Web.
Please check out our store and let us know what you think.
This is the first year my son's school is implementing Common Core Standards and recently I met with my son's middle school math teacher to discuss his progress in class and to find out how kids are adjusting to Common Core Math. All my reading to date regarding the Common Core left me concerned as a parent. While the notion of a common curriculum nationwide built upon critical thinking, problem solving, and applied learning sounds great, I was worried about the implementation of the standards at the student and school level.
As I spoke with Mr K. (Name changed to maintain privacy), who has strong credentials with degrees in engineering and computer science, I learnt that he spends over 3 hours before each class, identifying content and preparing for the class. He even solicits help from his family members and colleagues to proofread the content. In the absence of textbooks for Common Core Math, Mr K, and I am sure this applies to other Math teachers nationwide as well, has to now scour the web for content that relates to Common Core and then distill it into a form that can be shared with the students.
There are several reasons that have led to this situation. First, while the Common Core standards have been rolled out and schools are starting to adopt them, I am told that there are no textbooks available for Common Core Math.
The closest one is a Singapore Math based textbook that is being reviewed by a group of educators to decide on its applicability for Common Core. Second, content is not easily available on the web. There are a lot of Math websites but none that are geared toward Common Core. Third and not the least, new digital, adaptive testing methods that are a part of Common Core are being implemented that most students and teachers are not familiar with. While all this is happening, we are dealing with budget cuts, shortened school years, large classrooms, and high expectations from parents.
Prior to Common Core, teachers had access to textbooks that had been used in the school for years. Their primary focus was to deliver the content from the textbook and other resources in a fun and exciting manner. Now they have to create and curate the content, coach students on new forms of test taking, and deal with the all the technology options including Macbooks, Chromebooks, laptops, iPads, and Android Tablets and associated digital content.
Where does all this leave us? As long as we have dedicated teachers like Mr K. and supportive and patient parents, we should be able to get to a positive outcome from this experiment in Common Core. Do we have any other choice?
I would love to hear your thoughts on Common Core? How are you managing as teacher and a parent?
These days, the media is overrun with advertisements for products designed with brain science. These products promise to make us smarter, enhance our memory, and to prepare our children for school and learning. Parents, eager for their children to excel, play Mozart, download apps, and buy expensive educational kits for their children, even their infants.
While the recent popularity of the subject has led to a influx of unproven products on the market, there are in fact excellent education enhancing apps that have real potential to enrich education and learning in kids of all ages and abilities.
The application of neuroscience to educational development in children is well proven. Children are learning all the time, both consciously and subconsciously. In addition to building knowledge, they are learning how to behave, make decisions, and adapt to the world around them. As they learn, the physical structures in their brains change, forming habits and skills that are critical to their success. It has been established that good educational practices can affect the brain in positive ways, establishing excellent learning patterns and behaviors in children that will transfer to other areas in their lives.
Problem solving, memory, critical thinking, and forming habits are just a few important brain functions that affect learning, and an understanding of how these processes work can establish new best practices and technologies for education. With tablets and smartphone becoming more accessible to children in their homes, their schools, and public libraries, educational apps based on brain science have enormous potential for learning. Playing the right kinds of games can form decision making skills, adaptability, creativity, all while entertaining our children.
Children today are digital natives, and have grown up in a world of smartphones and tablets. While some children have more access to these technologies than others, schools and public libraries make the technology available even to children who do not have it at home. Playing with animated and fun apps engages young learners, while introducing concepts and developing learning through game play and activities. The multimedia features of learning apps deliver the messages of the games through both the auditory and visual channels of the brain. Using both channels increases the amount of information that the brain can process, and so more of the information becomes permanent learning.
All of this sounds complicated, but parents and teachers don't need to be brain surgeons--or even brain scientists--to enhance learning in their children and students by using quality educational apps. Sprout Labs educational apps have been recognized by a wide variety of nonprofit educational organizations, recognized review sources, and other respected media. The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has rated them the "Best Apps for Teaching and Learning," with reviews backing it up.
Apps can be fun and entertaining while providing knowledge in a more memorable way than ever. Teachers and parents should consider supplementing and enhancing their students' and children's education with quality, proven apps!
Imagine 10 years from now, individual subjects are no longer taught in schools. Instead, students work on problem solving, applied learning, and collaborative projects around topics. This article in Science Alert - No more physics and maths, Finland to stop teaching individual subjects, discusses changes being implemented in Finland, that could be a harbinger for a topic-based learning style of education.
Critical thinking, problem solving, and theme-based learning are essential elements of the Common Core Standards. Many schools in the US are already using project based, team driven, applied learning approaches. However, replacing individual subjects like Math or Physics with topic-based learning is a completely different ball game.
A variety of areas in education are undergoing disruption. Student and classroom management, curriculum/content development and delivery, analytics, adaptive learning and assessment, teacher, parent, and student communication, personalized learning, and digital learning are all seeing massive changes. Mobile devices such as iPads, Android Tablets, Chromebooks, laptops etc are accelerating these trends. According to an article in BostInno, education technology startups raised over $1.3 billion in 2014, with K-12 focused startups raising $642 million, which was a 32 percent increase over the previous year.
Content delivery is rapidly shifting from hard-copy textbooks to online and apps. Student-teacher-parent communications are happening on digital platforms. Paper report cards are being replaced with online report cards. Teachers are able to create content and track student progress online. There are academies and charter schools using computer science or math as the platform to teach concepts.
It is hard to argue against that fact that education is in the midst of a paradigm shift, that will leave it looking very different from what it is today. Whether the current style becomes obsolete or not is a million dollar question!
What are you seeing? How are you affected? What changes are you making? I would love to hear your thoughts and observations.
Sprout Labs apps are putting education at the fingertips of K-8 learners. We’re leveraging technology, brain science, and content expertise to produce apps that teach effectively so that students can learn effectively.
Technology is changing how we learn, when we learn, and where we learn. Our apps allow children to study independently or with teacher guidance. Students can move at their own pace, revisiting challenging components as needed to master the material. Sprout Labs apps may be used on-the-go, at home, or in the car.
Our apps integrate images and pictures, sound and music, speech and text, and interactive touch-based components to engage students using different parts of the brain. This multi-modal approach is entertaining, meaning kids love to learn using our apps. More importantly, this approach is effective. Students remember more of what they learn, having engaged multiple parts of the brain in the learning process.
Based on a mastery process, and leveraging our multi-modal approach so that students can remember more effectively, kids using Sprout Labs apps experience learning success. Our apps enhance a student’s sense of self as a competent learner, ready and capable to take on new challenges in and out of the classroom.
Looking ahead to 2015, we’re going to be greatly expanding the topics covered by our apps and the apps will also be available across multiple platforms including iOS, Android, Chrome, and the Web.
Is there a particular topic you'd like to see as a Sprout Labs app?
We'd love to hear from you.
Share your ideas by emailing us , via the comments section in this post, or from the Contact Us page.
Physics has always been the science discipline that students dreaded most, in fact, more than all the others combined. It has been seen as extremely complex and difficult to comprehend, requiring a superior intellect and the need to compute long and convoluted equations. Those who showed an aptitude for physics and were able to master its intricacies were inevitably seen as nerds.
Now, after seven seasons on the air, the immensely popular Big Bang Theory TV show has made physics cool. Complex physics concepts like the Doppler effect, the Schrodinger’s cat paradox, string theory, and quantum mechanics have become commonplace terms for fans of the show. While introduced for maximum comedic effect, all the physics concepts are accurate and vetted by a physics professor who makes sure that the scientific jargon and concepts, and even the equations on the whiteboards, are accurate. The characters go beyond being stereotypical nerds to emerge as quirky and loveable. A new generation of kids is viewing physics in an entirely different light as a result, and university physics programs are reporting increased interest and enrollment.
With kids showing greater interest in physics, the time is right to introduce the newest iPad app from Sprout Labs, Light Sound HD, which puts physics concepts at the fingertips of elementary school kids. The “Did You Know” snippets at the bottom of each page enhance learning by presenting brief interesting facts such as that primary colors red, yellow and blue can be combined to create black (in the Light section) and that snakes don’t have ears; they pick up vibrations through their jawbones (in the Sound section). Through compelling videos from Ted-Ed, Explainer TV, DNews and NASAconnect, kids can explore a variety of topics from light waves and mirages, to how sound shatters glass and sonic booms. The ArtScienceFun video explains the science behind mirages in a conversational, easy to understand format. The BrainStuff video presents an easy, humorous way to calculate how far sound travels and how this information can be used to calculate the distance of a lightning strike.
The app offers multiple ways to access learning including reading, touching, seeing, watching, and testing their knowledge through quizzes, thus accommodating a variety of different learning styles.
For teachers, the Sprout Labs iPad app is an invaluable companion to classroom teaching, reinforcing concepts and facts in a play environment that is sure to engage students.
The stark images remain with us – hundreds of dead birds covered in oil on a sandy beach, landfills overflowing with the waste of urban affluence, blue ocean waters marred by swirling garbage patches containing high concentrations of plastics.
The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, to raise public awareness of environmental concerns, and led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Now, 44 years later, Earth Day has become an international focal point in the continuing fight to conserve natural resources and protect the environment. This year on April 22, community events are being planned in more than 190 countries to provide information and gain support for environmental issues from climate change to sustainable energy.
Closer to home, most of us participate in very significant activities that contribute to cleaning up the environment – recycling. Cities and counties provide separate trashcans for separating paper, plastics, aluminum cans and yard waste and process them separately, diverting them into recycling processes to create new products. By taking these waste streams out of the landfills, we extend the use of those areas as well as cleaning up our rivers and lakes where trash is often dumped. Children are familiar with this process, and recycling principles are taught and reinforced in schools, so that these practices are passed on to future generations.
Another way we can encourage our kids to embrace recycling is by making it part of their world through play. Sprout Lab’s Recycle HD iPad app offers children the opportunity to learn about the three actions of waste management – reduce, reuse, recycle – in an interactive and engaging format that includes quizzes, pictures and video. Brief “Did You Know?” facts provide definitions of recycling terms in child-friendly terms. Auditory learners can have the text read to them while they follow along, improving their reading skills. Videos bring environmental issues vividly to life. In the Plastics Pollution video, the case for reusing or refusing plastics is strongly made through the visual of a huge pile of garbage containing hundreds of plastic bottles and the impact these materials have on birds and other wild life. The app offers ideas for reusing common items such as printer and toner cartridges, reusing wastewater for agriculture, adopting renewable energy options like wind turbines and reducing energy consumption.
In celebration of Earth Day, Sprout Labs is offering a free download of Recycle HD on April 22.
Teachers agree that videos are a great learning tool that can be used to engage students with visual and auditory stimuli. The benefits of using videos in teaching are many. Videos bring the topic alive by taking students across the nation, across the world, out into space, or back into the past to learn concepts, facts and ideas in an interesting, immediate and relevant way. By bringing concepts and ideas to life, videos create a learning experience, enhance the learning process, and help students retain the information being taught. The ability to rewind to review a specific portion for clarification or discussion makes videos flexible teaching tools. They appeal to both auditory and visual learners and can keep the attention of even the most distracted student.
Although teachers would undoubtedly support the use of videos as excellent learning tools in the classroom or as supplements to classroom instruction, many are unable to gain access to educational videos of sufficiently high quality content. YouTube might offer a huge inventory of videos but most are amateur creations with no teaching value. Maybe there are some videos on YouTube that might be able to complement a teacher’s curriculum, but there is a huge cost in the time involved in searching for them, reviewing them for content, and incorporating them into lesson plans.
Our company, Sprout Labs, has developed a series of engaging iPad apps on various topics in the sciences that include professional quality videos that have been curated from a variety of relevant sources. Our Ecosystems HD iPad app is divided into six sections – Grasslands, Desert, Forest, Tundra, Oceans and Wetlands and each of these sections offers vibrant videos. For example, the Grasslands section includes videos featuring real farmers and ranchers discussing, from their personal perspective, the loss of grasslands and wetland habitat and its impact. The Oceans section presents lively talks by real oceanographers on the mysteries of the ocean accompanied by amazing vistas of life on the ocean floor. In the Tundra section, the stark, cold and remote environment of the arctic tundra is brought to life, giving students a rare glimpse into a world they may never get to see in person. All the videos are professionally made by organizations such as TED-Ed and National Geographic, ensuring the authenticity and quality of the content. In curating a substantial selection of thought provoking videos that greatly enhance the topic, Sprout Labs has saved teachers the time and expense of doing the work themselves. Now they can focus on curriculum development, discussions and class time activities to complement the topic, and personalized help for students who need it.
Teachers know that students have different learning styles. Some are visual learners, preferring pictures and images. Others are auditory learners and respond well to sounds and music. Words appeal to another group who enjoy expressing themselves in speech and writing. Kinesthetic or tactile learners use their bodies and sense of touch, logical learners use logic, reasoning and systems, and social learners prefer learning environments that include other people. And, to make things even more complicated, students often learn most effectively using a combination of two or more of these learning styles.
With all these variables, it’s no wonder that teachers often have a hard time creating lesson plans that appeal equally to all their students. Even after spending hours developing rich content, they often find that while one group seems absorbed in the material, another group is lost or distracted.
What if there was a way to present material to appeal to different learners at the same time? Our company, Sprout Labs, has developed several content rich iPad apps on a variety of topics in the Life Sciences, Earth Sciences, Physical Sciences and Chemistry. Visually intensive, they also include sounds, music, videos and interactive quizzes. All our apps appeal directly to different learning styles by offering opportunities to read and learn, touch and learn, see and learn, watch and learn and quiz and learn.
Our Forms of Energy HD app draws in visual learners to images that jump off the page to illustrate kinetic energy with sprinters starting a race and children beginning their descent down a playground slide. Auditory learners will appreciate the soothing background music as well as the ability to have text information read aloud to them. Both visual and auditory learners will enjoy the app’s engaging videos on such topics as Potential Energy, Kinetic Energy and Energy Transformation. For those who prefer to learn through words, the app includes relevant facts at the bottom of the screen that the reader can scroll through. Learning is reinforced for kinesthetic or tactile learners by the ability to tap screens to advance through the app, activate videos or uncover text information. And solitary learners can proceed at their own pace and move back and forth between sections as they wish.
For teachers, these apps are a great opportunity to appeal to different learning styles in a single platform. And, they do not have to go through the time and expense of creating their own videos to do so. In offering these apps to their students, teachers can use class time more effectively to provide physical learners with opportunities to learn through experiments, logical learners can ask questions and debate concepts, and social learners can participate in group discussions or activities that bring the concepts to life.
Educators agree that technology can greatly enhance the learning environment. Kids seem to have an intuitive grasp of new technology and easily start using these new tools, especially when the goal is games or interactions with friends. The challenge for educators is to integrate kids’ familiarity with and acceptance of new technology with learning initiatives. One way to do that is the one-to-one iPad Initiative.
The one-to-one iPad Initiative is a movement that is gaining traction in schools around the country. It involves providing each kid with his or her own iPad for educational purposes. Incorporating a device like an iPad as a teaching tool into the educational environment immediately raises the level of kids’ interest and engagement, resulting in improved attendance and cooperation levels. Improved engagement has been shown to lead directly to increased learning. In addition, since all kids will be provided with the same technology, the playing field is leveled and all students have access to the same resources, no matter their socio-economic backgrounds, or physical or mental ability. The benefits of the one-to-one iPad Initiative seem boundless.
However, the cost and security issues alone have given educators pause, including the cost of acquisition of hundreds of iPads, re-evaluation of access to the school’s network, and enhanced security measures to prevent breaches. These issues have slowed the initiative to a crawl in school districts across the country, but there are positive signs that these barriers will be overcome
From the teacher’s perspective, there is another drawback – the need to completely revamp their teaching methodology in order to tailor them to the new technology. This requires that teachers educate themselves on the technical aspects of various programs, have access to technology themselves, and develop the expertise to create visually rich programs to engage their students and utilize the iPad to its full potential.
One solution to overcome the last barrier to adoption of a one-to-one iPad initiative is to look to existing content that has already been created. The Internet is bursting with content, not all of it of high caliber. But it is possible to find quality programs that might lend themselves to incorporation into a lesson plan or curriculum. Our company, Sprout Labs, offers a series of game-like iPad apps on a variety of topics in the Life Sciences, Earth Sciences, Physical Sciences and Chemistry. With rich visuals and engaging content, these programs can offer teachers the opportunity to deliver material to kids in a format that is familiar and fun and is therefore likely to retain their interest. The apps offer strong science content in a variety of formats (text that has the option of being read aloud, pictures relevant to the topic, and “Did You Know” snippets of interesting factoids). A teacher might ask students to “play” with the Water Cycle HD iPad app, for example, either in class or as homework and then use class time to engage students in discussions about the different types of cloud formations, air pollution, fog, condensation and other topics.
Learning has changed dramatically with the development of new technology and the iPad is at the forefront of this change. It is only a matter of time before every kid has access to an iPad as a vital educational tool.