10 great back-to-school apps

Put those smart phones to good use. With back-to-school season in full swing, here are 10 great educational and organizational apps for the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. And if you’re looking for mind-bending apps for yourself, check out our Brain Training list. Enjoy!

Jacquelyn Martin/ AP Photo/ File
Prospective students tour Georgetown University's campus in Washington. Check out our list of applications that can help your student get off to a solid start this school year.

1. The Elements: A Visual Exploration

A screenshot from The Elements: A Visual Exploration.

If your teenager has a blasé attitude toward chemistry, this application might be a good investment to change his or her mind. The Periodic Table of the Elements can seem like a hodgepodge of letters and numbers that describe seemingly abstract elements. This application makes the abstract more understandable with more than 500 pictures of the elements, as well as stories about their origins. If you’re wondering if the $13.99 price tag for this app is worth it, Stephen Fry describes it as “Alone worth the price of an iPad.”

And, if you’re on a budget, try the free version of this app: Periodic Table of the Elements by Kevin Neelands. It’s just not quite as colorful or engaging as the The Elements app, but the data is all there.   

Recommended ages: Middle school and up.

Compatibility: iPad only

Cost: $13.99

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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