Interesting Apps & Sites to Spark Discovery and Inquiry

Last week I held a webinar titled A Framework for Technology Integration. In that webinar I explained the framework through which I select the edtech tools that I use and share with others. Part of that framework is looking for interesting tools that help spark inquiry and discovery.

One of these is something I’ve never mentioned in this newsletter. The others may be familiar to you. If so, give them another look. After fifteen years of doing this I can tell you that it’s almost always worth revisiting some “old reliables.”

Expeditions Pro

Expeditions Pro is a virtual reality app that recently left beta and is now available to all teachers and students (don’t the “pro” name fool you, it’s a free app). The concept of the app is very similar to that of the defunct Google Expeditions.

In Expeditions Pro students can explore virtual reality tours of cities and landmarks around the world. They can do this independently or as part of a group activity that you lead from your smartphone or tablet. Watch this video for an overview of how Expeditions Pro works in teacher and student modes.


Tinkercad is a free service that I’ve used to introduce high school computer science classes to designing and building Arduino-powered circuits, cars, and simple machines. Using Tinkercad is a great way to let students discover through trial and error how circuits work in a safe, online environment.

Merge Cube

Merge Cube offers augmented reality experiences through the use of a physical object, the Merge Cube, and free apps that interact with the cube. The cube is essentially a six-sided QR code. Interactive digital content is displayed on students’ phones or tablets when they scan a side of the cube with one of the Merge Cube apps. Turning the cube changes the content that is displayed on the phone or tablet.

Some of the Merge Cube apps that I’ve used and enjoyed over the last few years include Galactic Explorer for learning about the solar system and Mr. Body for elementary school-appropriate anatomy lessons. Both of those apps are now part of an all-encompassing Merge Explorer app for K-8.

Google Earth

Before I had laptops in my classroom I would take my classes to the computer lab to use Google Earth to explore the world. From those days in the early 2000’s through today, Google Earth has remained as one of my favorite tools to help students discover new-to-them information.

The current, web-based version of Google Earth has a great feature called Voyager in which students can explore pre-made tours. There are Voyager tours aligned to math standards, tours that serve as history lessons, and tours covering a wide array of science topics.

By the way, I recently published a new activity for introducing students to creating Google Earth projects.

GeoGebra AR

GeoGebra AR is one of a handful of AR and VR math apps reviewed by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Department of Technologies for Learning in the Arts and Sciences (wow! That’s a long title).

GeoGebra AR is GeoGebra’ augmented reality app for iOS. Similar capabilities are available in the GeoGebra 3D Calculator for Android. In both cases the concept of the app is to enable students to view, manipulate, and record images of 3D math objects.

50 Tech Tuesday Tips and a Webinar!

50 Tech Tuesday Tips is my eBook for busy tech coaches, media specialists, and others who are called upon to lead short workshops in their schools.

Summer Workshops at Your School!

I’m going back on the road this summer to host professional development workshops in-person! If you’d like to have me come to your school, please get in touch with me soon.