Last week news broke that Tamagotchi, the 1990s virtual pet, has been reborn as an app. It’s nostalgic for those of us who as teenagers, doted on our egg-shaped digital key chain to keep it happy and healthy. As one of those people, please avoid downloading this app and do something useful with your time.

One visit to the App Store can equip you with enough digital delights to grow your knowledge and feed your curiosity- if you know what to look for. So here’s more on six new science apps to hit its virtual shelves in the past few months (including an app of our own).

For the outdoors type

Bunnerong Marine National Park Field Guide
Museum Victoria
iPhone, iPod touch, iPad & Android – Free

Do you know a Knobbed Argonaut from the Frilled Pygmy Octopus? This field guide introduces over 300 animals in beautiful detail, including marine life, insects and spiders. It also features National Park maps for visitors and tips for activities in the area. The stunning visuals make the app suitable for children, with the ability to select the amount of display text appealing to all ages.

Marine Park Field Guide

Find out what’s beneath your feet

iPad only – Free

How does your garden grow? Not very well if it’s in Yellow Sodosol in inner Sydney. Using your location, SoilMapp taps into Australia’s national soil database to show the types of soil near you. You can explore soil by different  types or locations around the country. The app is designed for farmers, researchers and natural resource managers, but certainly caters to the citizen soil lover interested in the pH under their feet.


An apple a day

Better Health
Dept. of Health (Victoria).
iPhone, iPod touch & iPad – Free

Version 2 of this app was released in December last year and includes an impressive recipes library, complete with healthy desserts, barbecue favourites and kid-friendly recipes. You will also find a variety of fact sheets and first aid reference information. A handy feature is the ability to set up health alerts for heat, UV, smog and pollen.

A data lovers delight

IEA Stats
International Energy Agency
iPhone, iPod touch & iPad – Free

Informative and detailed, this app is for those who are serious about data. The data is clearly presented on a variety of graphs and tables, covering everything from coal production in Australia to natural gas prices in Belgium. It certainly has all the energy information you need at your fingertips. Handy for researchers, students, teachers and even policy makers.

Back to school

COSMOS Reload science magazine
iPad only – $2.99


Aye Aye love embedded video, like the one of the cute critters’ feeding technique.

Following the success of the COSMOS magazine iPad edition, COSMOS released this app for 10-15 year olds (an app-zine, even). Out of all of the apps here, the features in Reload make best use of the design possibilities and iPad retina display. It includes an ‘All about Mars’ section, with a 360° panorama of the Martian surface from the perspective of the Opportunity rover- impressive on the retina display. The stories are clearly explained, like an nice feature behind last year’s Higgs boson announcement with embedded video. The content and design will appeal more broadly to late primary and enthusiastic early high school students. Details of future story updates are unclear, but for a stand alone app $3 is pretty good value.

Just for fun

Smithsonian Discovery Shuttle
iPhone & iPad – $1.99

Who said games were just for kids? Flying your own space shuttle is for anyone who wanted to grow up to be an astronaut. As you steer the shuttle Discovery into a safe landing, you can unlock factoids and artifacts like the Hubble telescope or the robot Robonaut. For the competitive types, you can share you scores across Facebook and Twitter. I first crashed the shuttle 6 times, so it’s fortunate the astronaut thing didn’t work out.


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