Top 8 Free Apps for Biology Teachers

Apps for Teaching the Biological Sciences

Apps for mobile devices have really opened up a new frontier for teachers and students alike. Science teachers have the ability to go past lectures and movies and provide students with more interactive experiences. The following apps can be used by biology teachers in a variety of ways. Some are best integrated into class, either through a VGA adapter or an Apple TV. Others are more suited to individual study and review for students. These apps were all tested for their ability to enhance your lessons and help student learning and retention.

Learn about cellular respiration, meiosis and mitosis, protein expression, and RNA expression with movies, still images, texts, and quizzes. If students get questions wrong, they can review the pertinent information provided in the app and then retry the question. This aspect alone makes this particularly helpful for students as they learn about cell biology.

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Pipetting sample into tray for genetic karyotyping testing
Genetic karyotyping can help make an infertility diagnosis, find an explanation for recurrent miscarriage, or indicate your risk of having a child with a genetic disease. Andrew Brookes / Cultura / Getty Images

This app is aimed at International Baccalaureate students but is also useful for Advanced Placement and other advanced students. It provides outlines and short quizzes for topics throughout the biology curriculum. The really great element of this app is the music videos. They can be a little corny, but they are great for learning about advanced concepts through song. They are especially helpful for those students who have strengths in musical intelligence.

DNA Replication Fork
Computer artwork of a DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) molecule during replication. DNA is composed of two strands. Each strand consists of a sugar-phosphate backbone (gray) attached to nucleotide bases. During replication the two strands unwind and separate, forming a replication bubble that enlarges to form a Y-shaped molecule termed a replication fork. It is here that daughter strands form a the parent DNA acts as a template for the construction of a new matching strand In this way the sequence of bases (or genetic information) along the DNA molecule is replicated. EQUINOX GRAPHICS/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

This app provides in-depth information on a number of higher level biology topics. The presentations have a number of interactive elements and are embedded with movies and lectures. This would be a great way to have students examine particular topics either alone or as a class.

Human Connective Tissue
Normal cells of human connective tissue in culture. At a magnification of 500x, the cells were illuminated by darkfield amplified contrast technique. Dr. Cecil Fox/National Cancer Institute

Aimed at middle school students, this is a fun game that teaches students about the five main structures of the cell and what each structure does. Students get to shoot down invading particles in a cell while helping each part of the cell function properly. The items being taught are reinforced throughout the game. The music is a little loud, but if you click the options button on the main screen you can turn it down or all the way off. Overall, this is a great way to reinforce some basic information.

Genetic Drift (Founder Effect). Professor Marginalia

This app covers the topics of evolution, genetic drift, and natural selection. It was created by undergraduates at Brigham Young University as a way to teach basic evolutionary biology topics. It includes a lot of great information presented in a presentation that is reinforced with two simulations and two games.

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Meiosis
In meiosis, pairs of homologous chromosomes (orange) are pulled to opposite ends of the cell by spindles (blue). This results in two cells with half the usual number of chromosomes. Meiosis occurs only in the sex cells. Credit: TIM VERNON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images

This app provides great information about meiosis, fertilization, and genetic determination presented through cartoon animation. The way that the interactive reinforcements are weaved in with the information is excellent. However, there is no way to exit one of the topics once it is started. You have to allow it to play to the end. Further, when you get to the end, if you say you don't want to save your information, the entire app turns white. In the end, this is an excellent informational app that just needs a few tweaks.

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Pipetting sample into tray for genetic karyotyping testing
Genetic karyotyping can help make an infertility diagnosis, find an explanation for recurrent miscarriage, or indicate your risk of having a child with a genetic disease. Andrew Brookes / Cultura / Getty Images

This app provides a wealth of information about genetics including population genetics, recessive genetic diseases, and genetic screening. Further, it provides four genetics calculators. It also has a great map feature that shows the locations of major genetic diseases. Overall, it's an excellent resource.

Punnett Square showing Incomplete Dominance. Adabow

This easy to use Punnett square allows students to play around with genetic combinations and see how dominant and recessive genes show up in multiple generations. This no-frills app is a great way to easily present a Punnett square.