I may have to retract my statement yesterday that webcams are my favorite public good. I have been doing some research on government mobile apps that has changed my opinion. In the past, I only utilized government apps for reference or career information. These apps were usually visually boring and not very much fun to use. However, I found a whole new genre of government apps that are both educational and entertaining. The best part – they are all free! Below, I list my favorite mobile apps meant for entertainment created by the government.*
Solve the Outbreak: The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention created an interactive and engaging app that places you on the front lines in working to solve an outbreak and save lives. Quickly, you learn how difficult it is to control the outbreak of a disease. It is compatible with iPad.
- NASA App: NASA’s official app enables you to discover the galaxies from the palm of your hand. It provides live videos, launch schedules, beautiful pictures, and the latest news from NASA missions. It is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and Android.
- Comet Quest: Another fantastic NASA creation. This game makes you the mission controller of the Rosetta spacecraft. While dodging ice chunks, you carefully observe and record information from comets. Not only is it a fun game, but you also learn a lot about comets in the process. It is compatible with iPhone and iPad.
- Leafsnap: The Smithsonian Institution, in coordination with Columbia University and the University of Maryland, created this fun and educational app that utilizes visual recognition software to identity tree species from photographs of their leaves. It also contains a ton of beautiful high-resolution images of leaves, flowers, fruit, petiole, seeds, and bark. It is compatible with iPhone and iPad.
- Pointe du Hoc: The American Battle Monuments Commission created this app to give you a chance to visit the World War II D-Day landing site in France. Through the app, you are able to walk the site, explore key positions, hear stories from soldiers, and view historic photos. It is compatible with iPhone and Android.
- mPing: Ever wanted to be a meteorologist? This app, created by the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) and the Precipitation Identification Near the Ground project (W-PING), turns you into an amateur meteorologist. Its really quite simply, you collect information about precipitation in your area and send it to NSSL through the app. They compare this data with their data to develop and validate new and better algorithms for predicting weather. It is compatible with iPhone and Android.
- Satellite Insight: Another NASA gem. This game is similar to Comet Quest, but instead you are collecting data from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, R series (GOES-R). During the game, you must continue to collect the steam of data from GOES-R’s six main instruments to both save lives and protect expensive instruments. You learn a lot about satellites and their importance as a technical resource. It is compatible with iPhone.
- Your Art: The National Gallery of Art constructed this app for both visitors and art lovers across the globe. It provides access to the Gallery’s expansive collection of art, including works from Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt van Rijn. You not only get to view the art, but also learn a great deal about its history. The app is compatible with iPhone.
- Aesop for Children: The Library of Congress adapted the book “The Aesop for Children” to create this interactive app. It contains over 140 classic fables, complemented with creative illustrations and animations. It is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and Android.
- DocsTeach: The National Archives and Records Administration constructed this app to enable you to learn more about our nation’s history and interact with primary source documents. You can choose different topics and challenge yourself, or your classroom, with an activity. This is a great tool for teachers eager to find a new way to engage their students. It is compatible with iPad.
Honorable Mention – Charge!: The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness created this spy game to help you learn and apply correct acquisition and contracting rules as defined in the Federal Acquisition Regulation. During the game, you help secret agents fight evil henchmen and become an expert in acquiring high tech gadgetry. It sounds pretty awesome, but it is only for Android, so I was unable to test it out!
*WARNING: I am an apple user, so I can’t speak to how these work on Android devices.
What Do You Think?
What is your favorite “fun” government mobile app?