Teaching Chemistry With a Whole New "App"titude. Intro Blog 1.0


Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Doug Ragan and I have been a high school chemistry teacher for fourteen years.  Three years ago, I was approached by my high school principal and the conversation went like this,

Principal:  "You are one lucky guy."

Me:  "Really, why?"

Principal: "Your going to be part of pilot program that involves using a class set of iPads."

Me: "A class set of what?"

Three years later and how I teach chemistry has changed and with that a so called new "App"titude has come with it.  The past three years have been quite the journey and through this opportunity to blog with ChemEd X my hope is to continually share how I have used specific apps to aid my students with their learning and overall understanding of chemistry.

The first App I would like to share is entitled ChemApp Lite:Chemistry Formula App by Guerrilla Media and can be found on the iTunes store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/chemapp-lite-chemistry-formula/id399194016?mt=8 for free.  The app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.  Requires iOS 4.0 or later.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

According to the Apps description:  Chem App lite assists students to learn chemical formula.  It is designed specially for secondary school students.  Solve random chemical chemical compounds within a specific time period.By practising with this app, students will have a stronger foundation in basic chemistry and will be more confident in writing chemical equations as well as ionic equations.  

The lite version is free and shows 24 elements and numbers that can be used to write chemical formulas including subscripts to match the names of chemical compounds that are shown.  I decided to use the app to help my students improve their capability to write chemical formulas correctly.  The app can be used strictly for practice or if played as a game then 10 points are assigned for each correct formula within a two minute time limit.  The app allows for three incorrect responses before the game is over so to speak.  I have cracked the 300 point total getting 30 correct formulas within the time limit and have witnessed my students doing the same.  I saw an overall improvement in my students capability to balance formulas, which lead to an improvement in their capability to balance equations since the formulas were written correctly.  My students found the challenge frustrating at first but continued to use the app and with that improved the learning of element symbols and their charges matching them to each of the chemical names.  There is a paid version of the app available that includes polyatomic ions but I decided to teach that rather than pay for multiple copies to be installed on the student iPads.  I recommend you give the app a try and I hope you see an improvement in your students ability to balance chemical formulas.  By the way, the current high score amongst my students is 830 points.  An incredibile accomplishment.  

What Apps have you found to be useful in aiding your students with chemistry?



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Comments 2

Michael Evans | Sun, 02/10/2013 - 12:04


Thanks for this post! Just thought I would share a few apps I use for organic chemistry.

Reagents - Lists of reagents for organic reactions and synthesis. Includes "synthetic mode" (what can I make from functional group x?) and "retrosynthetic mode" (how can I make functional group x?)

Chemistry by Design - Organic synthesis app containing many, many total syntheses. The quiz mode is an awesome way to "predict the product" or "predict the reagent."

The Chemical Touch Lite - My personal favorite periodic table app.

Doug Ragan's picture
Doug Ragan | Mon, 05/06/2013 - 22:00

Thanks for sharing.  Just saw an article in JCE about some more chem apps entitled Chemistry on the Go: Review of Chemistry Apps on Smartphones

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