It has never been easier to educate yourself: all anyone needs is access to a cell phone and the internet. Here are five apps we’ve come across lately that are sure to help you hone your mental skills whether you’re a student in school or an adult simply looking to improve your mind.

Intel Explore and Learn Marketplace

Intel Explore and Learn

If it’s one thing South Africa needs quite badly, it’s easy and affordable access to educational material, and that’s exactly what Intel’s Explore and Learn Marketplace provides.

All learners need to do is download the Windows or Android app, sign up for an account and the world of textbooks and other learning materials relevant to the South African curriculum are theirs for the browsing and downloading.

Once the app is installed, learners will find textbooks, instructional videos and interactive documents at their fingertips. The only “catch” is that the Explore and Learn Marketplace app only works on tablets, phones and PCs powered by Intel chips, which limits its reach somewhat.

Some of the content is free, while some must be purchased. All paid-for content is pretty cheap, though, especially when compared to the price of physical textbooks.

“Easy, but limited”

Toca Lab

Toca Lab

R30 (Android), R24.99 (iOS)

This fun game aims to teach kids age 7 and up about the Periodic Table of Elements, but it doesn’t hold their hand to do it. Instead, it gives them all the tools needed to perform their own experiments, and it’s up to the kids to find out what each piece of lab equipment does and how elements react to them.

Kids are given an oscilloscope, a centrifuge, a Bunsen burner, a cooling agent and test tubes to play with, and they must follow the hints the app gives them to complete the experiments needed to unlock the next element. It’s not at all easy, though, but the challenge provided will certainly encourage enquiring minds to enquire further.

“Explore and learn”

EveryCircuit

Everycircuit_Free_resized

Free and paid for ($10)

If you’re learning about electronic circuits, this app will prove invaluable in helping your understanding of the course material.

It allows you to set up digital circuits that respond just as they would if they were real, effectively putting a prototyping, testing and troubleshooting tool in your hands that can be used to test your theories on circuit construction and composition.

The free app works well enough, but the paid-for version has a lot more circuit components to work with that will prove invaluable to anyone serious about learning more about circuit construction.

“Real circuits made digital”

IQ Test Preparation

IQ Test Preparation

Free

IQ tests were once like urine tests – difficult to study for. Fortunately that’s no longer the case thanks to the internet and its boundless wealth of knowledge, but sifting through all of the info online can be quite an arduous task.

What you need is an app that gathers together some of the more common IQ tests that you can take before the real thing to prepare your brain for what’s to come.

That’s exactly what IQ Test Preparation does. Its attractive interface presents you with intelligence tests like mumber patterns, mental arithmetic, logical reasoning and more, plus it gives a lot of feedback to let you know how certain answers were reached which in turn will help you sharpen your own mental skills.

Most importantly, it’s a lot of fun to run through the problems and see how well you could potentially do on a real IQ test.

“Sharpens your brain”

Khan Academy

Khan Academy

Free

This free app for iPads lets you learn just about anything, for no money whatsoever.  It presents the huge range of information on offer in a simple yet elegant interface that’s as easy to navigate as reading and pressing, and it encompasses everything from Maths to Science to Economics and Finance and more, all presented beautifully and in great depth.

Basically, if you’ve ever had a hankering to go back to high school to learn the fundamentals all over again or to simply refresh your memory, all you need to do is set aside a few weeks of your life, fire up this app and consume all of the information within.

It’s a stupendously useful tool for high school students, and is broad enough to satisfy the requirements of many different school syllabi regardless of their geographic location.

“Amazingly comprehensive”