Review, School

Geeking At School

I’m going to do something a little different today. Those of you who read my blog regularly are now saying (I can hear you in my head!) how is this different from every other day? Well, this is one of those days where I let my inner geek/nerd/techie out to play.

Someone shared a link to a calculator app that can take a picture of a math problem, solve it, and even display it’s work. Elementary school math homework may never be the same, although sadly, it cannot yet read handwriting, so teachers, you might be looking at a bit more work in the future (at least until they can program it for handwriting, something I find unlikely). I think it’s a really neat idea, if not useful to me, as the math I am doing when necessary in class is – a tad more advanced, shall we say. It looks like I may not have to take calculus, at least. Math is not my strong subject.

However, being an occasional geek, I do have apps I use to help me get through school. I have to say that MathLab’s graphing calculator is my favorite calculator ever, and was a large part in getting me through precalculus with a passing grade. My instructor allowed me to use it, on my android tablet, during classes and even exams, although I was careful to keep it flat on the table where it was clear I was only using one app. One of the things I love about it, while I’m using it now for statistics, is the ability to go into the equation, tap, and edit rather than clear out the whole equation and re-enter every time. It almost makes math painless.

The other app I’m using on a daily basis is Duolingo. It’s not directly related to a class, but for refreshing my memory on Spanish and reinforcing what I’m learning now, it is a great tool. I’m not sure how helpful it would be for learning a language cold. However, as a supplemental, it’s terrific. The format is fun, like a game, with silly rewards that still make me happy even though I know the psychology behind it. I’m not sure how they are handling the speech recognition portion, where you speak a sentence or phrase into the microphone, but when I showed my professor she was impressed with it. I know it does other languages, but until I’m done with Spanish I’m trying not to distract myself. I already have enough trouble not speaking/writing in Spanish, French, and English all mashed together in a horrible mess. Duolingo is a cross-platform app, you can use it on computer, phone, and tablet, which I do. It takes me about ten minutes to get through a lesson, so I can do it anywhere when I have a little time.

A clever little app I’ve found very useful for studying organic chemistry, especially bond angles, geometry of bonds in molecules, and some bond formation animations, is Organic Chemistry Visualized. I looked at several different apps, since ChemDraw 3D isn’t compatible with my tablet (this is the app we use in class) and some aren’t worth the effort even as free downloads. Again, I was able to put this one on my phone for those 5-min stretches between class with nothing else pressing. Gives a little mental exercise to understanding the chemistry at a bond level. The other chemistry app I have on the phone is Organic Chemistry Nomenclature, which is helpful for studying functional groups and other concepts through flashcard quizzes. On the tablet, I’ve also got Jmol Android, which is another app for looking at molecules in 3D. Visualizing nicotine, for instance, allows you to immediately see the difference between an SP3 nitrogen bond with trigonal pyramidal geometry, and the SP2 trigonal planar nitrogen geometry.

I have a bunch of other apps on the devices. I don’t game a lot, and when I do, I prefer something resembling a board game, or puzzle. Which might be why I’m enjoying Pathogen so much. I picked it up from Amazon’s Free App of the Day based on the name, and find it a nice stress reliever to try and infect the whole board with my cells. I doodle on my app with several drawing programs, but the one I really love is Autodesk’s Sketchbook Pro. Layers, hundreds of variations on brushes, colors galore, what more could an avid doodler want? Fingerpainting, taken to a whole new level. There is, of course, my Kindle app, and Evernote, and Tasks to Do, and Google Calendar… but those get into a whole ‘nother post on organization and productivity while on the go. Maybe next week.

What is your favorite school or educational app?


Butterfly Dreams
Art Created on my tablet with Sketchbook Pro