Science Journal by Google

App review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
Science Journal by Google App Poster Image
Nifty tool for gathering data on favorite devices.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about things like barometric pressure and acceleration, and they can also pose their own questions and use this tool to solve them. They can even turn their devices into spy gadgets. 

Ease of Play

It's easy to get started, but some features are too well hidden.

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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Science Journal by Google is a tool that turns kids' devices into portable laboratories and science notebooks. There's no included content, but there is a link to Google's Making & Science website that is accessible without a parent gate. There doesn't seem to be a way to share an entire experiment -- to submit it for a class report, for example -- but kids can share individual measurements using the share options on the device. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

SCIENCE JOURNAL BY GOOGLE is a tool for gathering data using a cell phone, tablet, or Chromebook. Kids start an "experiment" and fill it with virtual cards containing different types of information. They can have an observation, which is an open-ended text-based card, and can take pictures with the device and add those. But the most fun comes from collecting data using the built-in device sensors, including a barometer, a light sensor, an accelerometer (X, Y, Z, or linear), a magnetometer, a compass, and a sound sensor. The sensors available will vary based on what's present in the device. The readings for each sensor can be recorded over time and even trigger certain actions. Triggers might be set to alert the user, start recording, or add a note, allowing kids to set their device to capture data. There's also a fun option to attach sound properties to a sensor, so kids get an audio indication of sensor changes and can even create their own music using direction, light, acceleration, and so on. 

Is it any good?

This clever app unlocks some hidden powers in our personal devices and gives kids an easy-to-use tool for their STEM explorations. Science Journal by Google is a great option for educators, including homeschoolers, who may not have the budget for expensive environmental sensors. It's also fun for family and solo experimentation. Google has some sample experiments on their site, and a quick search turned up some additional ideas for creative uses for the sensors. These are perfect for inspiring kids who don't quite know where to start on their own. It's relatively easy to use, but there are some things you'll need to dig to find, like the ability to share sensor recordings. It would be nice to be able to export an entire experiment to Google Docs for final editing and sharing. Overall, this freebie holds a lot of bang for the non-existent buck and is certainly a must-have for kids who have any interest in science and technology. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how science is used in our daily lives. What things can you measure with Science Journal by Google? How could you use that information in useful ways?

  • Do you think this is a good app for learning? Why, or why not? What can you learn? 

  • Talk about investigation and the scientific process. What are the most important questions to ask? How do you make sure your results are valid?

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For kids who love science and STEM

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