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Review: ‘Fragile Earth’ for iOS

Show this app to students and friends and I guarantee they’ll spend time poring over the mesmerizing images. In addition to detailing the devastating effects of natural phenomena such as hurricanes and cyclones, it also offers then-and-now aerial images of areas effected by urbanization, mining, and global warming.

A book by the same title is scheduled to be released by the publisher.

Title: Fragile Earth
Developed by: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. and Aimer Media
iOS, requires 4.0 or later

Gr 6 Up-Fascinating before-and-after images of a range of environmental phenomena are presented in this photo gallery detailing “Man’s Impact” on the environment, “Deserts and Droughts,” “Warming World,” “Water Power,” “Wild Weather,” and “Natural Phenomena.” Users can filter results by date, region of the world, or theme. The paired images are superimposed over each other so it appears viewers are looking at time-lapse photography; by sliding the photos right or left, they can choose to view them side-by-side, or one at a time, full screen. Pinching and stretching provides detailed close-up views. Textual information, which is accessed via an information screen, partially obscures the related image.

Some of the before-and-after photos span short time periods; pictures taken of the same street before and during a dust storm in Kansas in 1935 are separated by 15 minutes, while others allow viewers to see changes such as those visible in the satellite photos of Amazon deforestation over a nine-year period. The aftereffects of tsunamis and earthquakes and other natural events make clear how powerful—and devastating—those forces can be.

The layout is both clean and intuitive. Navigation between images is easy and a tap to the “back” button will return users to illustrated index or table of contents. Menus disappear with a single screen tap for full-screen viewing. Photos can be starred and saved to a favorites folder in the app or shared via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

This is a great visual resource for students or teachers working on environmental projects or lessons, and one that will work well for the flipped classroom.Sydnye Cohen, Library Media Specialist Brookfield High School, Brookfield, CT