Learning to code is a big topic of conversation these days with a lot of discussion about the importance of teaching young people coding and programming skills. Why is this such a big topic of conversation? Because when anyone learns to code/program they have the chance to spend time critically thinking, problem solving, and troubleshooting. All important skills to have in the 21st century.
Acquiring these skills is definitely a part of Cargo-Bot, an app that uses game-play to teach the ideas behind coding and programming. Playing Cargo-Bot requires programming each game in order to achieve a a particular goal. All goals require moving boxes of cargo across or down the screen. And, while the first goals are pretty simple it doesn’t take too long for the game to become more complex and require that players think about not just left, right, up, and down but the order of those moves, looping moves, and specifying when and when not to actually make a move.
App: Lumosity Mobile
Cost: Free with subscription available
Platform: iOS 5.1 or later
Ever think that your brain needs an extra boost? Maybe you took a recent vocabulary test and realized your focus was lacking; maybe you would like to improve your attention. The brain training app recently released by Lumos Labs, Inc. can help you to achieve this.
Before beginning, you must first set up an account through Lumosity. During this account setup, you will be asked what certain areas you would like to improve: multitasking abilities? Better memory? Based on your answers the app will create a “brain workout” for you—one that you can specifically coordinate to your schedule. For example, if you only have spare time on the weekends, you can make your Lumosity app brain training schedule fit your weekend schedule. After the account setup, you can manage your brain workout schedule in the main menu under “Reminders.” You can set the days of the week and even the time for when you would like to train your brain.
Title: Two Dots
Platform: iOS 6.1 or later
Cost: Free (with in-app purchases)
Just about a year ago I reviewed the addictive and fun game, Dots. Now there’s a sequel, Two Dots, and it’s just as addictive and just as fun. But, you don’t have to take my word for it.
Title: Adobe Voice
Platform: For iPad iOS 7 or later
Adobe Voice is a brand-new app for creating videos that integrate voice, text, music, and images. It makes it easy to create professional looking movies that are informative, creative, and entertaining. The screencast below gives you an overview of how the app works.
The app is very simple to use and is a great tool for teens for class projects, storyboarding ideas, turning creative writing into moviemaking, and more. Ask teens in your community what they want to do with Adobe Voice. I bet they will have ideas.
Title: Color Splash
Apps for mobile devices make it easy to achieve impressive visual effects that used to require expensive equipment with an app. Color Splash is an excellent example of this. The app, which works with both iPhones and iPads, lets you remove color from your photo and then selectively add it to only specific sections of your image or objects within it.
Title: Local Birds
Springtime. Flowers are blooming. The sun is shining. Birds are singing… and flying by and hanging out on the lawn. Hey, what kind of bird is that anyway? If you’ve wondered about this, Local Birds can help.
Title: FridgePoems by Color Monkey
Cost: Free (for basic vocabulary set)
It’s National Poetry Month, and there’s no easier way to promote the creation of verse poetry than setting up a public access tablet with this fun app.
When you launch the app, you get a “working” space with a handful of words, but you can zoom out to see more. Dragging the word boxes with your fingertips allows you to reorder things to create your verse.
Writers are not strictly limited to the words on screen. You can draw for new words or invest in themed WordPacks ($1 each for hipster tragic, redneck, hip hop, etc. or $3 for all of them). The provision of verb endings and plurals can add some variety as well.
Storify is one of my favorite tools on the web – the app is a little glitchy – for taking content (images, videos, Tweets, etc.) and putting them together into a story. Storehouse takes a similar approach and gives users the chance to combine text with images and video in order to create a tale about a topic of interest.
For teens the Storehouse app is a great way for them to take those images and videos that they take on a device that’s in their pocket or under their arm, and turn them into something that helps to tell about their lives, places they’ve been, events they’ve participated in, and so on. It’s a great tool for giving teens the chance to go beyond the image to the story behind the image.
The app is pretty simple to use. The first step is to tap on the + icon on the top right. That opens up the screen for adding images and videos that are either stored in your iPad photo library or in Dropbox or on Instagram. (Teens will have to connect your Dropbox and Instagram accounts to Storehouse if they are going to import photos from those services.)
Title: Path on
If you like to take pictures with your iOS device or know teens who do, you will definitely want to check out Path on. At first glance it may just seem like another photo captioning tool, but what sets Path on apart from other apps that allow you to add text to your images is that it gives you complete control over where you place your text. From a simple caption at the bottom of a page to a curved caption that follows the mountain at the back of your picture to a complicated pattern of words that fit into the spaces around your subject, this app makes it easy to achieve impressive text effects.
When you first open the Path on app, you have the option to tour their gallery on Instagram, or start creating your own images using those already saved on your device or by taking a new picture. Selected images can then be cropped and, as a nice added feature, the app even includes automatic tools to crop an image to fit the standard size on Instagram or for Facebook cover images or profile images as well as most of the standard image sizes you would find in photography. After the image is cropped, you can select how you would like the text to appear on the image. The app includes automatic options to write text in a square, circle, spiral or standard paragraph format and you can also unlock an automatic heart shape by liking the app on Facebook. But, what really sets this app apart is the option to instead draw your own path onto your image. To do this, you simply select the draw option and then trace the desired path or paths on your image. You can have non-continuous paths and the app will ensure that the text follows the exact order in which you drew each line, giving you an impressive amount of control over the entire process. For more detailed paths, you can also zoom in and out on the image. There are also options to undo your most recent drawing or to clear the entire image. All of these tools make it fairly simple to create a complicated path for your text very quickly.
Once you have selected a path or drawn the desired path for your text on the image, you can type your text and then edit it to make sure it exactly matches your vision. Text can be typed in any of hundreds of fonts or, if you would prefer, you can even opt to mix up to five different fonts on a single image. You also have control over the color of the text, the size, the letter spacing, the shadows and can easily change the layout of the text with the tap of a button. You can also edit the image itself with the built in cropping tool, images filters and other effects. Once you are happy with your creation, you can save it to your device, email it to anyone or share it on Instagram, Facebook, Flickr or Twitter all from within the app. Path on is a very fun option for image captioning and is well worth checking out if you frequently create and share images on your iPhone.
For more app recommendations visit the YALSA App of the Week Archive. If you have an app you think we should review, let us know!
Title: 123D Sculpt
Platform: iOS, iPad
Cost: Free with paid upgrades
Ever want to try 3D modeling? Ever think about how much 3D modeling could be like playing with clay? I did not equate the two things until I tried this app. 123D Sculpt gives you base shapes to start with and allows you to manipulate them with various tools, add color and texture, and share them in through photos or videos.
App developer, Autodesk, offers a video demo of the app, tips, and a gallery of people’s projects on the 123D Sculpt website. They also offer a lineup of other apps to experiment more with 3D modeling, some of which you can try on the site.
When you open 123D Sculpt, you can choose from a variety of base shapes to start with: a face, a human form, a dog, a cube, a car, an airplane, to name a few. Once you choose a shape, you can manipulate it using various tools. In the video demo, and in searching images created with 123D Sculpt, it looks easy to change the base shapes into detailed creations. After a bit of experimentation, the learning curve seems steeper. Practice is required to get the “clay” to behave the way you want it to. Continue reading