Problem Solving &
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is about using math and science to solve real-world challenges and problems. Creative thinking and problem solving are cornerstones of STEM. Visual programming on iPads allows students practice skills like sequencing, logic, and determining relationships between objects by creating a script or writing commands to control the actions of objects on the screen. Problem solving apps are those in which users are presented with a challenge or puzzle which they must solve by using logic, strategy, physics, trial and error, etc.
- Know how to use a minimum of two problem solving apps and one programming app - appropriate for your grade level
- Determine which problem solving app you prefer and support why you prefer one app over another
- Build awareness of where and how problem solving and programming apps fit into your curricula
From the list of four recommended apps below (or from one of the problem solving apps in resources, download and try a minimum of two different problem solving apps. Some of the paid apps are fantastic and well worth the cost (or buying when they periodically go free.) Depending on how they are used, an app considered a game apps, e.g. Angry Birds can be used for problem solving (cacluate angles.) You are welcome to select a game app if you can clearly explain how the app helps students learn problem solving.
Cargo-Bot (free) is an introductory programming app. Create a series of scripts using blocks to move packing crates and solve puzzles. Tutorials are built-into the first lessons in the app.
TinkerBox HD (free) is a engineering and mechanical puzzle game with two modes of play (puzzles & invent) and a construction theme; suited for upper elementary and MS/HS students
Tinkerbox HD Tutorial and Featured inventions
(open on iPad to view in TinkerBox HD)
Bubble Ball (free) is an app for younger learners to begin exploring game-based problem solving by using wood or metal planks to direct a ball to a target App review/tutorial video
Saving Seeds HD
(freemium) is a leveled physics game in which players draw lines using limited “ink” to guide seeds into flower pots.
Outcome: Explore various apps that will help your students better understand the steps involved with analyzing a problem and testing different solutions.
Take it further: Explore additional problem solving apps
- Select two apps you would like to compare. Learn the key features of both apps as you try them out. See how it handles incorrect answers, explore if there are any settings for customizing the app (ie turning off the music).
- See if the app handles multiple users. Does a second user start at the level another user ended or do they have their own unique settings?
- Try to get beyond the first, basic level in each app.
- Take a screenshot showing the app in action.
Take it further: Explore additional problem solving apps
- Post to your digital portfolio a screenshot of two problem solving apps in action.
- Briefly explain the objectives for each app that was included.
- Select one you would recommend and support your recommendation with 2-3 reasons.
Daisy the Dinosaur (free) introduces early elementary students to visual programming by allowing them to drag and drop nine different commands into a program to make Daisy jump, spin, roll, grow, etc. upon the stage. There are two modes or ways to use the app - Free Play and Challenge.
- Learn how to use the app by completing the 5 challenges in the Challenge mode.
- For more support with the Challenge mode, view the video from School Library Journal from the beginning to the 7 min 45 sec mark (at which time the old version of Hopscotch is demonstrated).
ScratchJr (free) is a beginning programming app that allows elementary students to snap together programming blocks to create their own interactive scenarios. This app also lets users modify characters and backgrounds, add their own photos, and record their voices for use in projects. Currently, projects can not be shared.
- View the “Quick Intro to ScratchJr” video on the app found by tapping on the question mark after launching the app.
- Learn - read the online Interface Guide and Block Descriptions. (These can also be found in the app by clicking on the question mark then on the book icon.) Hint: Tap on each number shown on the Interface Guide and read each explanations on the right.
Hopscotch (free) is a drag and drop programming app for secondary students. Learners use the app to write scripts to control a variety of characters’ actions on the screen. One thing that separates this app from others is that it allows for the use of x and y coordinates as variables for characters’ movements. Projects can be shared by email or uploading to the Hopscotch servers.
- After downloading and opening Hopscotch follow the first two lessons of the Hopscotch General Curriculum (pages 1-7).
- Optional: Access many video tutorials by clicking on and then Help within the app.
- Video tutorial Note: when looking for tutorials, be sure you are watching a tutorial for the new version of Hopscotch as the new and the old version look very different. If it was created a year or more ago, then it's the old version and may create confusion.
- When your program is complete, tap the Gear icon in the upper left while in edit mode, tap "Untitled" to change the project to "yourfirstname-hopscotch" then tap Share to email the project file to yourself. This file can be uploaded to your digital portfolio or to a cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive, then linked to your digital portfolio.
Outcome: Develop an understanding about visual programming on an iPad by selecting one app, learning how to use it, and creating a program to cause actions to occur on the screen.
- Read the descriptions of the programming apps above, and select one of them for this activity. Use the built in tutorials, help features and/or videos to learn how to use the app you selected.
- Use command blocks to create a program that includes a series of at least four actions that occur on the screen. Notes: In some apps, blocks are grouped by color to denote different functions (motion, appearance, etc.). A trigger is usually needed to tell the device when to begin executing a series of commands. Different apps use different triggers. Learn the trigger(s) for the app you chose.
- Take a screenshot that shows the iPad while you are piecing together your series of command blocks.
- Take a screenshot (Daisy, ScratchJr), or email a file (Hopscotch) as evidence that you have created a script that includes a series of at least four actions that occur on the screen. If you take a screenshot, be sure to do so while your program is in action (not at rest).
Take it further: Learn to use a second programming app from above or from the Other Resources section below.
- Upload a screenshot of your iPad showing the blocks of a programming sequence (script) that you made with the app you selected to your digital portfolio.
- Post one image (Daisy, ScratchJr), link to a video (Cargo-Bot), or uploaded file (Hopscotch) as evidence of your successfully completed program with at least 4 actions to your digital portfolio.
- Reflect on how problem solving and programming apps can help improve students’ skills or competencies. What challenges might you or your students encounter while studying problem solving and programming with an iPad?
Problem Solving Apps
Blog Posts and Articles
- Amazing Alex Free (freemium) a physics game - create sequence chains to complete a challenge
- Bridge Constructor Free (in app ads)
- Cat Physics ($) simple objective - get a ball from one cat to another. 100 levels
- Crayon Physics Deluxe ($$) move the ball to the star by drawing shapes which interact with objects
- Crazy Machine Golden Gears Lite (freemium)
- Dr. Gears for iPad (freemium)
- Finger Physics HD Free (paid version available)
- Geared ($) place different sized gears to make the target gear turn
- Lazors (free)
- Monster Physics ($) 50 different missions to solve with contraptions you create
- Tiny Toy Chest ($)
- Touch Physics Lite (free)
- Toy Physics Lite and Toy Physics HD ($)
- A.L.E.X. (25 levels free)
- AppCraft (free)
- Bee-Bot (free)
- Cato's Hike: A Programming and Logic Odyssey ($)
- Codea ($) (create apps on an ipad)
- Fizzy's Lunch Lab Fresh Pick (free)
- i-LOGO ($)
- Kodable (freemium)
- Light-bot Hour of Code (free, ages 6-8, 18 levels)
- Mindcraft - Pocket Edition ($)
- Move the Turtle ($)
- My Robot Friend ($)
- Robo Logic 2 ($)
- Tynker (20 levels free)
Blog Posts and Articles
Standards and Correlations
- 1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity
- 2. Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
- 3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning