Students raise their hands in a classroom.

Students raise their hands in a classroom. Credit: istock

Are you worried that your teenage kid's brain will revert to hibernation mode during summer break? From video lectures to virtual museums, to educational opportunities that are truly out of this world, here are some apps that can inform and entertain your kids this summer.


(iPhone, iPod Touch, Android; free)

The world's greatest collection of modern art can now fit in the palm of your kid's hand with these free applications. They include tens of thousands of digitized works found in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The app also includes background information for many artists and multimedia tours of the museum's galleries. If your kid visits the museum, the app provides audio walking tours and the ability to create customized playlists.

Khan Academy

(iPad; free)

School is always in session at Khan Academy, which offers short video lessons that cover topics from the Bay of Pigs invasion to Newton's First Law of Motion. Started by former hedge fund analyst Salman Khan, the academy is a collection of thousands of YouTube videos that Khan has produced in recent years. Each video follows a simple format, with Khan providing a voice-over to visual examples he presents on a virtual blackboard. It's never too early (or late) to get exposure to the subjects covered in Khan's lessons. The app is free to download and won't hit you up with any subscription fees thereafter. While there is no official version of Khan Academy for Android devices, there are several independently produced apps that curate his video lessons on that platform as well.


(iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android; free)

TED conferences -- which are sponsored by a nonprofit group to focus on ideas in technology, entertainment and design -- can be experienced via mobile devices. The organization recently began a "TED-Ed" program with curated videos that are shorter, animated and designed to appeal to the younger set. As TED incorporates these "Lessons Worth Sharing" videos into the mobile applications, your kids can enjoy talks from leading thinkers, including Segway inventor Dean Kamen and philanthropist Melinda Gates. They can even hear a talk from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, who explains how Wikipedia can be used for more than just researching term papers.


(iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android; free)

Sometimes it's a good thing for kids to space out for a while, particularly if they can learn about the origins of the universe. That is the goal of the free and official NASA app, which includes mission information, over 150,000 images and videos.

The Elements:

A Visual Exploration

(iPad; $6.99)

The periodic table comes alive with this beautifully designed and engaging application, which showcases every chemical element in animated and three-dimensional glory. The app includes the back story of every element and how each one fits into the world.

-- By,

Tribune Media Services

Tech bytes


Google: Heed our warnings

Google users sometimes see this intimidating message during a search query: "Warning: visiting this site may harm your computer." But what if the site is a legitimate one you've visited often? In a new security blog, Google bluntly says, "Don't ignore our warnings." Google says it flags legitimate sites when hackers add dangerous content. The search giant says up to 14 million queries per day result in the warning.


eBook revenue tops adult hardcover

EBooks have passed adult hardcover books in terms of revenue. The Association of American Publishers said eBooks rang up $282 million in sales in the first quarter, up from $220 million in the same period last year. Meanwhile, sales revenue for adult hardcover books was flat at $230 million. Adult paperbacks are still the sales champs, with $300 million in revenue in the first quarter.


Apple branches out

With its cool products, Apple is hot, so perhaps it's fitting a thermostat is available at its online store. The Nest is, like Apple products, sleek, high-tech and expensive ($250). While a thermostat for your home is an unlikely product for Apple to sell, there are connections: Nest can be programmed from Apple devices and the company's founder is a former Apple designer who helped create the iPhone and iPod.

-- Peter King

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