Feature Review

Solar System for iPad
Price: $14
Runs on: iPad
Ages: 7-up
For grades: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, S, Jr, Sr.
Teaches: science, astronomy, the solar system, planets
Touch a planet, moon or comet to explore, in this carefully crafted interactive science poster that covers every corner of our Solar System. After the dramatic symphonic introduction (which can be skipped), you can start exploring. You notice a location-based slider on the screen bottom, that starts with the center of the solar system (the Sun) and moves out to the distant comets. This space-line serves as a constant table of contents, helping you to jump around quickly through huge distances.

To learn more about a planet or moon, touch it or turn it to pull up more photos taken from NASA or the Hubble. Content includes about 200 "pages" of interactive information, presented book style. Note that a high level of reading is required, and English appears to be the only language option. Also, there is no text-based search which is always nice on any type of reference, in case you want to zoom in on a specific topic. These are minor problems.

From a teaching view, the best part of this app is the working model of the solar system, presented as a virtual manipulative feature, where you can zoom in or out on the model, and adjust units of time or your view in the system, with a swipe. This feature helps children (and adults) understand how the solar system works, and the vast time/space relationships involved.

Each planet comes with an associated photo gallery, with many more NASA photos, along with a link to the Wolfram Alpha database. This App is a partnership between Faber and Faber, one of Britain's oldest publishers, and Touch Press, a new media company. Is any app worth $14 and 842 MB of an iPad? Here's a good candidate. While we didn't find it to be as impressive as Touch Press's stunningly beautiful rendition of the periodic table (The Elements), Solar System for iPad is another interactive coffee table book that makes exploration easy.

See the demo at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbGGe7B77VQ

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CTR Jan 11 Feature Review Entered 12/24/2010 by Warren Buckleitner, Modified 12/13/2016 by LD