Get Smart with Educational Apps and Plugins

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As anyone who has spent hours playing games on their smartphone can tell you, electronic devices are well known for providing endless entertainment. But it doesn't stop there. You can also use these powerful devices to get smarter, whether they're helping you learn new words or pushing you through a study session Bolster your brainpower with these educational apps.

Get Instant Access to a Dictionary

Ever hear a word during a lecture or in a conversation with a classmate that you didn't know the meaning of? It happens to all of us. Instead of nodding your head and acting like you know what it meant, use the free Merriam-Webster dictionary app. Android and iOS users can quickly launch the app and either type or speak a word. You'll then be greeted with a definition, an option to hear how the word is pronounced, and synonyms.

Image Courtesy of Meriam-Webster

Convert and Compare Almost Anything

WolframAlpha, the same company that Apple uses to power some of Siri's answers, also has a website where you can take advantage of its vast knowledge. Curious how many days were between two dates? Just search the two dates and WolframAlpha will tell you. Want to convert 7 liters to gallons? Just type it in and WolframAlpha will produce the answer. You can visit the website on your mobile device, or download the $2.99 app on Android or iOS.

Image Courtesy of WolframAlpha

Graph Math Problems Online

Purchasing an expensive Texas Instrument calculator will soon be a thing of the past (if it's not already). Save yourself some money and use a free website called Here you'll find all of the same functions and calls you would on a dedicated graphing calculator. Signing up for a free account will let you save, share or print your graphs and calculations.

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Block Yourself from Yourself

Install a browser plugin to block yourself from sites you easily get distracted on such as Reddit and Twitter. A Chrome extension called I-AM-STUDYING will allot you 10 minutes of free browsing for every hour of work you put in. Once your time is up, you're locked out for another hour. You're able to customize the list of blocked sites. For Firefox users there's a plugin called LeechBlock. The plugin allows you to enter sites and time ranges for keeping you locked out. Search the Firefox Add-ons store to download it.

Image Courtesy of I-AM-STUDYING

Set a Timer

As an alternative to blacklisting yourself, set a timer to remind yourself to take a short break. Pick a timer that allows you to customize not only the amount of time you'll be working, but one that automatically starts timing your break. This way you don't have to worry about setting the timer for studying, then resetting it for break and so on. Free timer apps aren't hard to come by, just search your respective app storefront and find one that works for you.

Photo courtesy Ezogo LLC

Let Young Kids Monkey Around

In order to get younger children engaged and willing to learn, you have to entertain them. An educational app, Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, helps teach preschool kids their colors, letters, numbers, shapes and basic problem-solving skills. After completing a few exercises the child is rewarded with the chance to place a sticker on a trophy wall. Available for iOS and Android, Monkey Preschool Lunchbox will set you back $0.99. The same developers have also published games for older children, and specific educational topics.

Image Courtesy of THUP Games

Master the Periodic Table

Learning the periodic table can be a feat. Instead of carrying around a thick book detailing each element, look no further than your iPhone for the answers. The Chemical Touch app allows you to view the entire periodic table. Each entry includes a link to Wikipedia should the app not answer your question. You can also apply color schemes to the table, revealing any trends. The Chemical Touch is available in the App Store for $0.99 and is optimized for the iPhone, but will also work on the iPad.

Photo courtesy Christopher Fennell

Draw With Your Finger to Formulate Answers

MyScript Calculator is a free app that lets you draw complex mathematical equations on your phone's screen. The app then takes your writing and converts it to digital text, while at the same time providing an answer to the equation. Once you have an answer you can then email a picture file of the completed problem to yourself, a friend or your instructor. An iPad and iPhone version is available in the App Store, while an Android version is available in the Play Store.

Photo courtesy Vision Objects