13 Awesome STEAM Games, Apps, and Sites

February 07, 2014
Ellen Holderman

Common Sense Media
San Francisco, CA

For this week's Top Picks List Friday, we are featuring awesome games, apps, and sites for STEAM. When their forces combine, science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) are a super group of essential subjects that lead to long lasting learning. Mix and match these picks to help students cultivate design sense and inventiveness, gain transferrable skills, and make cool, useful stuff. 

To see the rating of each app, game, or website, visit the Top-Picks List, STEAM Games, Apps, and Sites


DIY Nano
DIY Nano is a science app that introduces nanotechnology to kids in ways that are both cool and understandable. This uncluttered, well-designed app includes DIY activities and experiments, as well as short videos about topics like materials used in nanotechnology, "nano" and nature, and how nanotechnology affects everyday life. Read full review.

Algodoo is a 2D physics sandbox that lets students build working systems of environments and objects which all have interacting physical characteristics; it's like a blend of toybox and laboratory sure to lead to fun and discovery. Read full review.

Science Buddies
Science Buddies is the go-to site for anyone heading into a science or engineering project. Teachers will find checklists, handouts, and grading rubrics. Fair coordinators can utilize the planning guides and judges' information. Read full review.

DIY - get skills. Be awesome.
DIY - Get skills. Be awesome. is the companion app of the crafty, creative how-to website DIY. Kids can learn how following directions, sharing project information -- including photos and videos -- and asking questions on the go via mobile technology can combine to make DIY - Get skills. Read full review.

TinkerBox is part game, part creative outlet. Kids can work their way through the six levels of puzzles, each offering many stages, where they drag the right object into place to complete the physics puzzler -- think Rube Goldberg machines. Read full review.

Make: Online
MAKE: Online, the website from the creative minds behind MAKE Magazine, is the go-to place for DIY project ideas, reviews and resources, and a user-supported community of like-minded tinkerers. Covering science, technology, craft, and the pure pleasure of making stuff, MAKE outlines some seriously cool hands-on opportunities for kids. Read full review.

Garry's Mod
Garry's Mod (GMod) is a physics sandbox stuffed with art and models from Valve software's popular games, including Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike. With a large library of generic objects, recognizable props from Valve's games, and pre-built devices like thrusters and wheels, users can build and share nearly anything they can imagine. Read full review.

Kerbal Space Program
Kerbal Space Program is somewhat like a NASA simulator except it's set in a fictional star system and on the planet Kerbin. Players purchase various rocket parts, put them together, and then see if they can get their ship into orbit, to one of Kerbin’s two moons, or even to another planet. Read full review.

In Codecademy, older kids and teens write computer code. They set their own pace through lessons on every major modern programming language, including PHP, Javascript, Python, Ruby, HTML, and CSS. First, they create an account using an email address or an existing Facebook, Twitter, or Google account. Read full review.

Design Squad Nation
The Design Squad Nation website complements the PBS Kids television show Design Squad, in which teenagers compete to create the most novel solutions to engineering challenges. The competitive aspect of activities, along with video demonstration of the brainstorming and prototyping that go into design, make the website a great learning tool for kids. Read full review.

Minecraft is a sandbox game that rewards players for collecting and combining resources into new, useful items that enrich gameplay and help further exploration and creativity. Since each new world begs to be explored and reshaped, Minecraft cultivates 21st-century skills: goal-setting, collaboration, creativity, design and systems thinking, and engineering. Read full review.

Gamestar Mechanic
Gamestar Mechanic is an online toolset, game, and community that teaches kids how to build games. It focuses on the art of visual design rather than on programming, as other game-making platforms, such as Scratch, do. Overall, Gamestar Mechanic is one of the best-documented and approachable game-design tools available to kids and their teachers. Read full review.

In DIY, kids use everyday materials to complete challenges in various skill areas. After an adult approves their membership, kids create a unique login and design an avatar. They start exploring more than 50 skills on the homepage, where popular topics are listed along with a featured challenge and news about who's earned a new badge. Read full review.


What STEAM app, games, and websites do you enjoy using in the classroom? Sign in to comment below.