As STEM teachers we tend to be techno-savvy and are likely to be well versed in smartphone technology. Some of us are on our 3 or 4th generation smart phones already. Chances are your students have a smartphone as well. In addition, tablets are replacing books in some schools, as textbook adoption committees begin to realize that the books they have spent thousands of dollars on contained obsolete information months before publication. It is also well understood by this point that students are so familiar with learning by using their pocket devices that teachers who are willing to allow the use of these tools have fewer issues with students trying to sneak a text every 30 seconds.
To that end, this series of articles will look at free or inexpensive applications that can be added to the smartphones and/or tablets that STEM teachers can use to help themselves and their students work more efficiently, effectively and creatively in the classroom, shop and laboratory environment. The summaries below and included links are for Android phones. Equivalent iPhone apps are probably in the iTunes store for your perusal.
There are many ways to determine thread pitch when looking at an unknown bolt or screw. One way is by wasting time trying to find a matching nut in a coffee can (not encouraged). Another is to use a proper thread pitch tool, which can be an inexpensive plastic molded piece or a metal gauge set most commonly seen in the shop. The Smart Tools Thread Pitch Gauge gives a pretty good estimate of nut and bolt thread pitch in US, Metric sizes as well as NPT and BSPT pipe threads. Simple have students place the unknown bolt up to the screen and match it. Quick and efficient, but not as precise as the screw in gauge you may have misplaced in the shop. Another note: Screen protector recommended.
Drilling holes and tapping them for threads is a common operation that every student in the shop environment needs to learn. Looking up the charts to determine which drill size is required to tap for a certain bolt is less efficient and handy than just pulling out the phone and tapping a few virtual buttons. This app works for metric and inch screw threads, and even allows you to set thread engagement and allow for hole size errors. Drill bits can be letter size, fractional or metric.
This app provides a handy (and always at hand) reference for anatomy, biology and other students studying the structure of the human skeleton. It provides information on bones grouped by theme, type, and all the joints. One of the issues with the need to memorize the bones of the human body in some courses has been the requirement to make flash cards and carry around a cumbersome book to go along with them. No more. A phone or tablet along with Rays Anatomy can give students all they need, all the time. STEM students will come up with lots of creative ways to study together using their hand held devices, making memorization more fun than work, and higher achievement should be the result.
Let us know what apps you like to use that help you in your STEM program. Next time we’ll look at some apps that help STEM students involved in electronics and running CNC machinery.