App of the Week: Science Journal puts a lab in your pocket

In many instances, smartphone apps and features have taken over tasks that formerly challenged our brains, like remembering numbers and memorizing facts or routes. With its brand new app Science Journal, debuted at the I/O conference, Google aims to do just the opposite.

Science Journal offers children and adults the opportunity to challenge their brain. It’s a tool for experimenting that utilizes smartphone sensors to measure things like light and sound. It’s easy to use with bright colours, a simple user interface and 9th grade reading level explanations of what the sensors measure and how.

For now, the app only measures a few metrics: ambient light (measured in lux), sound intensity (dBs), and acceleration (left-right, forward-back and up-down), but Google has said it will continue to improve it alongside professionals in the science community.

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In addition to the app, Google has set up a web destination where users can get activity ideas and search out kits and supplies that can be used in partnership with Science Journal from third-parties like Make, PocketLab and Jameco.

Some of the suggested activities include using the light sensor to find the exact right angle to tilt a solar panel in order to maximize their illumination by the sun, or taking your accelerometer tool an a roller coaster to see how many gs of acceleration you experience. 

Even if you don’t have a specific experiment, it’s fun to just mess around with the various sensors on the app, especially in graph mode, where you get to see real-time results. But if that seems limited to you, don’t worry, Science Journal is only destined to get better: Google has said it plans to open source the app later this summer, which will no doubt lead to even more interesting functionalities.

Naturally, since Google developed the app, it’s only available for Android on the Google Play Store. Hopefully for iOS users, a good copycat turns up soon in the App Store.