George Lucas Educational Foundation

Stream Videos With Free iPad Apps

With iPad apps from PBS, Discovery, History, Smithsonian, BrainPOP, and even the NBC Nightly News, you can capture children's interest in a topic through educational programming.

You might watch Netflix, HBO Go, or Hulu Plus for personal use on your iPad, but while these may not always be appropriate for students, there are many free iPad apps for streaming video that will work great in your classroom. The days of running to the VCR to record a clip from a television program are long gone. If you want to hook students with a film clip, to connect your classwork to reality television, or to inspire children's interest in a topic through educational programming, there are many apps that can be used to stream content on your iPad.

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If it's a clip from NOVA on Stonehenge or a documentary on the Dust Bowl that you're looking for, you've found the right app. PBS has lots of material that will stream straight to your iPad. With an easy-to-navigate platform, the PBS for iPad app has an abundance of local and national programming available for your classroom. Bookmark your favorite clips at home so that they'll be easy to find when you're ready to share them with students.


The Discovery Channel app has full episodes and snippets from a variety of television shows. If you want to grab your students' attention with exciting video clips, the Discovery Channel has a lot to choose from. If you're teaching sustainability or ecosystems, a clip from Deadliest Catch might fit into a day's lesson. MythBusters can explain the science behind everyday questions with a production value that most teachers can't swing in their classroom.


BrainPOP's iPad app has a free movie each day for students. Very often the featured movie connects to an event that happened that day in history or something related to a current events issue. BrainPOP movies are short and powerful, presenting information to students in a highly engaging format. Although you'll need a subscription to access all of their content, the daily free movie is a great option for streaming videos on your iPad.

NBC Nightly News

Long gone are the days of running to the VCR to tape a clip of something that you want to share with students. With the NBC Nightly News iPad app, teachers can preview and share news stories from the previous night's program. It's a great option for making real-world connections with content being taught in the classroom. Just a few taps on the screen make it easy to share the clip on pandas or coverage of a speech featured on last night's program.

Smithsonian Channel

A fantastic resource for high-quality videos on a wide range of topics, the Smithsonian Channel app lets you watch full episodes and clips from a variety of shows. Search by topic or create your own channel by choosing from a list of topics that actually goes from A to Z. If it's footage of Niagara Falls you're looking for -- or if dinosaurs and outer space fit better into your curriculum -- there is a lot to choose from in this app.

History Channel

The History Channel app is simply called History, a wonderful tool for streaming clips and full episodes of a variety of programming. I can't decide if my favorite part of this app is the well-organized series of clips from the program America: The Story of Us or The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents. Instead of searching through a long video for the perfect moment, these snippets are already broken down into perfect pieces. This app has lots of options for the American history classroom and clips that can connect to English language arts and science topics.

What are your favorite apps for streaming video on your iPad? Have you tried any of these with your students?