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Leo loves chemistry. We do all sorts of “kitchen science” experiments, including the usual baking soda and vinegar, ooblek, mentos and diet coke, casein paint, and so on, and we encourage him to experiment as long as (a) he wears his safety goggles, and (b) he does it in the bathroom! šŸ™‚

We also have a bunch of chemistry and element apps, which I’ve briefly mention in another post, and we use chemistry in a bunch of other games, like the algebra treasure hunt, described here.

We’ve recently been balancing equations, and yesterday we “won” at ChemCrafter by The Chemical Heritage Foundation, and since I promised to say more about this great app, here you go!

The general play is like thoseĀ usually excruciatingly boring Farmville-like games where you have to wait for your crap to arrive, except that (a) they don’t actually charge you money, just easy-to-get points to speed things up, and (b) you get enough at the outset to actually succeed at the whole game if you come anywhere near scoring a few more along the way, which is easy. Ā So usually you don’t actually have to wait … kudos for that!

There are three “books”, simple reactions, acid reactions, and salt reactions, and things get more complex as youĀ get to the latter books.

ChemCrafter5

Indeed, the balance ratio of the reactions appears to be correct (I didn’t actually check them all), so, for example, whereas you need to put 1:1 ratios of some reactants, you might need to put 3:2 ratios of others. Moreover, it actually computes the heat of reaction, and, just as in real chemistry, some reactions have to be heated to get over the energy barrier, whence they release lots more energy than you put in, whileĀ others are spontaneous. Again, although I’m not a professional chemist, I have done my share of throwing metallic sodium into lakes, and mixing potassium permanganate and glycerin, and the details in terms of which reactions went spontaneously v. not seemed more-or-less correct to me.

ChemCrafter3

The reaction graphics are great too!

Anyway, so this led us back to lots of discussion aboutĀ chemical reactions and balance, and energy and so on…and to one of my only two criticisms of the app: That is doesn’t actually display the reaction equations!

My other criticism? We finished all the books, and it’s over! šŸ˜¦