Last year, Google released a fun app that let curious kids perform a handful of science experiments by monitoring light, sound, and motion using a smartphone. Following some feedback, the app has been updated with a more open-ended approach, allowing kids to simply record and annotate the world around them. (It's also on iOS now.)
"We heard from teachers that it would be even more useful if the app could take notes and make observations for science experiments," wrote Amit Deutsch, program manager for Science Journal, in a blog post. "So we've redesigned Science Journal as a digital science notebook."
It's easier now to simply launch a sensor, note down what you're recording (a bird song, an object's motion, etc.), and then compare it to other experiments. There are also three new sensors you can use: a linear accelerometer, a magnetometer, and a compass, assuming your device has the hardware to begin with.
You could test the G-forces in your car while you navigate by cardinal directions, and... do something with magnets at the same time. (Preferably from the passenger seat.)
There are also numerous new activities, for those who want something more guided. Google partners with universities and education startups to create little projects you can do at home or in the classroom. (If you're looking for the new ones, maybe avoid those that use a Nexus One as their example phone.)
This article originally appeared on TechCrunch.