Friday, August 31, 2012


By Samuel Hansen from Flickr
I've been asked multiple times this week about good iPad apps for math... so time to put together a list. I have not had an opportunity to use most of these with students yet, so I'm going on my impressions and recommendations. Many of these do have android versions. I'd love for you to add your experiences or recommendations or opinions in the comments. I have a previous post about iPad for teachers, too. My first response to people was to send this list from mathxtc, which has a lot of goodness on it. I'm particularly interested in  Solids Elementary HD (explores nets and solid geometry) and the Mathination touch solver or Algebra Touch.  Also note the official Apple collection of iPad math apps. (ITunes link. Most of the links in this post are web links.)

The big question to start with is "wifi or not wifi?" On the web, start with Wolfram|Alpha and Desmos.

I also have to give a shout out to GeoGebraTube which on a mobile device automatically optimizes sketches for mobile use. Input boxes and some other features don't work. It's worth noting here that there's a Kickstarter for a free GeoGebra for iPad app. I think they're having difficulty because it's hard to perk something which is going to be free. Very worth of our support as a community.

There's a lot of video lesson archives, such as ... you know, but I'm not going to cover them here for fear of terminal irony.  Vijay recommended Fraction Basics which does interactives plus video and has some free samples. (There are a few with the model of free video app, buy the content.)

The Calculator
If you have an iOS device, you should not need a calculator anymore. However, I have yet to see a calculator that combines regression with the nice graphing and computation that's available. Who will finally save us from TI's decades of benevolent tyranny?
  1. Wolfram|Alpha - the reasonably prided app. I also like the course focused variations that make the interface more direct for students. This I have used with students and it is powerful.
  2. Quickgraph - free, also Quickgraph+ for 1.99.  Good computation, nice interface, good touch interaction. (Worked with one of the authors, Alejo Montoya, on ParabolaX when he was at GVSU.)
  3. Free graphing calculator - upgrades to Scientific graphing calculator. Both very serviceable.
  4. Calculator Pro -free scientific calculator. No graphing but faster for computation than the others. Simple and clear.
Note that there are games here, but they are pseudo-games. The game structure is gamified content, as opposed to be a game that also addresses content. I obviously don't have a good way to describe this yet. I'm not against gamification, but think if it's overused it will have a short shelf-life.

  • Dragon Box - winning awards and notice left and right. $3 or $6. Content: solution of linear  equations. Should help students learn which manipulations are permissible, and maybe even choose which manipulation is desired, but I have qualms because there is no algebraic reasoning as to why we can do these things. My 8th grade daughter even noticed that she could figure out how to solve anything, but didn't know why anything worked. Transitions kids from pictures to regular algebraic notation. Clever and really well executed, but possibly dangerous as instruction. I'd use it as an alternate representation after some inquiry. Christian Bokhove is a big fan and pointed out that it's multi-platform.
  • ParabolaX - our GVSU contribution to algebra games. Content: factorable quadratics. Designed by Alejo with Char Beckmann. The idea of the game is to use game conditions to gain students experience that supports later symbolic understanding.
  • Sketchpad Explorer - free. Let's you explore Geometer's Sketchpad files on the iPad. Key Curriculum was nice enough to send along the link to their sketch sharing site: Sketch Exchange

  • MathEvolve - Lite and $2. The Dragonbox of elementary number operations. I wrote a post about it already.
  • Everyday Math Games like Top It. Usually $2. Love it or hate the curriculum, they have some excellent number games for computation practice. They were an early leader in putting them online, but that was only accessible to schools using the curriculum. Now they're apps, so everyone can have access. Follow the iTunes links from Top It to see the full selection. (No easy way to link to that.
  • Protractor 1st - free. A super-protractor.
  • Geoboard - free. Infinite rubber bands. Finally.
  • Number rack - free. Rekenrek with clicking beads, even. Great number representation.
  • Motion Math - $2 each. Really a stand out in this category. Get the feeling of a game, use the full range of input of a mobile device and they're making several games that are new and great. Try starting with Motion Math fraction game.
  • 24 game - $1. Great IRL and just as good as an app.
  • Set - $5. Remember that's cheaper than an actual set of Set.
  • Entanglement - $2. Graph theoretic reasoning that's really absorbing.
  • Pick-a-path - free. Interesting computation and estimation game from the NCTM.
  • Concentration - free. Early number representation matching game from the NCTM.

  • Soulver - $3. Interesting effort to blend verbal and symbolic representations ... not sure if it's there yet, but I like where it is going.
  • Mobimath - Lite or $1. Needs cellular to do distance, but still does angle of elevation. This kind of real-time data collection will be awesome once it's smoothed out. Even just the angle of elevation bit is neat, though.
  • Loopy - free. Trying to push the boundary of an interactive virtual manipulative, but it doesn't quite work for me yet. They're onto something neat, though. Free, so give it a try.
In addition to all this, there are a lot of excellent puzzles that echo both classical math problems (like tangrams) and newer archetypes (rush hour).  You might start with some of the neat Think Fun games, like Chocolate Fix.

This also doesn't get into the tools that students can use to record or create their own content. Paul Macneil recommended Explain Everything ($3).

Hopefully this is a good starter selection. What's missing? For what objective or classroom activity would you like to see an app? Do you know somewhere where the various instructional materials are written up?


  1. The use of technology in education is making easy for students to learn the difficult topics .Like by use of videos and images,students can understand the calculus,trigonometry and quadratic in a better way.

  2. Thanks for all these links! I don't yet have an iPad but I will definitely save your page for future reference!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I published a free algebraic thinking app for upper elementary and middle school students called Shuttle Mission Math. Students solve balance scale problems visually. Created with input from Math 2.0 group members.

  5. Oh. My. Goodness.

    I have just downloaded about a dozen apps, and I am super-excited to start trying them out. Simple games to help my daughter with her basic math, fantastic tools to help me teach Geometry. Thanks a million for the list, John!

  6. Thank you very much for this list. By the way, congratulations for becoming one of the GeoGbra ambassadors.

  7. Ever since I took my Calculus class and used an online text book containing videos to help you along te way I have wondered where technology was going to head with any subject really. Since math is not my strongest subject I'm sure I will be going and checking out these apps to see what they're all about. I really enjoy math games as the get kids interacting with the subject.

  8. I released a math app this week targeted for students in K-2. Mainly focused on number sense using different math models.

  9. I use the iOS math app QED Solver for most of my calculations. This is the best tool for numerical solutions of systems of equation, linear, nonlinear, etc.

  10. Take a look at

  11. The use of this application in the modern technology would help the students find time to learn and solve wherever they are. Instead of playing games on their iOS or iPad they can learn and research on the problem solving.

    Jojo @ Elementary Math Worksheets

  12. Thanks a bunch for the mention John ��there are some more #math apps which I'd like to recommend our esteemed Math colleagues. I'd go for "MathDictionary" a ready reckoner for many meanings needed in Math, "Mathterms" which explains many different #Math terms, "MathGraph" in some situations I found em better than "QuickGraph", "eSolver" for solving any quadratic equation, "MathRefFree" which practically acts like a Math bible to any #Math obsessed lover like myself. There are plenty more out there John and I'd tweet you more as n when I stumble upon them and btw! All the apps I have just mentioned are FREE in the Apple store. My twitter handle is @bucharesttutor for those who want to follow me.

    Have fun all, thanks again John ��

  13. John, thanks for sharing your recommendations. I just downloaded a bunch of them and can't wait to try them out with my own children and my students. One app, not necessarily super 'mathy', that my children enjoy is Circadia and here's a video describing the app:

  14. John also check out Splash Math apps. They are available for grade 1 to grade 5 and are aligned to curriculum standards.