The other day I took my son and his friend to their soccer practice. During the ride, I overheard the two 4th graders talking about who they will vote for if they can vote. Their discussion triggered my search of good educational materials about election. Of course, I started with apps. I found that quite few news companies have election apps. They are designed for people to keep track of the poll results and election related news. I only found one app that is designed for kids at $4.99. Looking over several of them, I feel WP Politics from Washington Post has the best educational value, and it is FREE.
In addition to News and poll results, what I like the most about WP Politics are the “Polls data from different sources”, the “historical elections data”, and the “create you own map” feature. All these are under “Maps & Data” section.
WP Politics have polls data from different sources, such as CNN/ORC, IPSOS, Fox News. You can choose to view the results in charts or in tables. This is a good place to teach kids about survey research and show them the results could change depends on survey methodology and Campaign effort of each party.
If you child is interested in past elections, you can go to “Historical election results”. Here kids can learn who’s won every state and every election in American history, going back to 1789. In addition to the information of who win who loss, there is an election overview from Encyclopedia Britannica for each historical election.
The neatest feature of the app is “Create a Map”. Kids can simulate election results by tapping on each state to turn it into a “red” state, a “yellow” state (toss up states), or a “blue” state. It is very helpful to have the number of electors of each state shown on the map. When kids change the color of the state, they will see the number of votes for each candidate change accordingly, so are the numbers of votes needed to win. This is a good interactive tool to teach kids how elector works.
Besides “Maps & Data”, the “Candidates” section also has some educational information. Here you can find each candidate’s position on different issues, such as Education, Energy. Under each issue, the app offers each candidate’s position, brief and to the point. Depending on your child’s age, some issues may be beyond their level of understanding. But some issues, such as education, environment, energy, can be a good starting point of a good conversation among the family members.
On top of all above, I just saw the news, the app is going to add a new section “The Founding Fathers”. In this new section, Jack Rakove, Stanford professor, Pulitzer-prize winning historian, and former Daily Show guest, will provide various founding fathers’ view on issues most relevant today, such as the federal deficit. There will be written background and video commentary on each issue. This will be another great add to the educational value of this app.
Although WP Politics is not designed for kids, with the information it offers, it can be a good educational app teaching kids about elections and US history. It is an app you can use as a historical reference that goes beyond 2012 election.
It is only available on iPAD. It is FREE on App Store. There is an In-App Purchase ($2.99 per month) for access to Insider’s Corner articles.
In addition to the app, I found a very nice video created by commoncraft, explaining how the electors work. This is not an app, but is a good complement to the WP Politics App.
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