Did you ever wonder why the periodic table is shaped the way it is, what gives each element its own unique set of properties, or even how elements combine to make everyday objects such as a cup of coffee? With “NOVA Elements,” explore an interactive periodic table, play a game hosted by David Pogue, or watch the two-hour NOVA program, “Hunting the Elements.”
|NOVA Elements||Free||Free for use.|
Indepth way of exploring the periodic table
Nova Elements is a very cool, and completely free, science app from PBS. It includes the fascinating video “Hunting the Elements”, a very cool “David Pogue’s Essential Elements”, and an interactive periodic table. I have shown the video in class before, and it is very interesting and engaging! Having it readily available on the app allows students who were absent or called out of the room to watch the parts that were missed.
The interactive periodic table gives some of the usual information, albeit in a more engaging fashion than a simple printed table, but also incudes a “build it” function. When activated, this gives students an element, atomic number, and atomic mass and asks them to build the atom by adding (and subtracting if needed) the correct number of protons, neutrons, and electrons. It even puts the electrons in the correct energy levels and tells the students if the atom they built was an isotope. When the students believe that they have created the needed element they can “Submit” their atom and are quickly informed if they were correct or not and the general instructions for modifying their atom (ex. “add more neutrons”, but not how many).
After learning to build individual elements, students can move on to the “Essential Elements” game. Here, they chose from five different objects and are challenged to build some of the major molecules found in those objects. They are given the formulas, a description of the compound, a neat molecular skeleton for each that can be rotated with a touch, and the elements required. They build any needed elements and then drag the elements to their correct positions in the skeleton molecule. This is harder than it seems, since the students have to look at the number of bonds attached to atoms in the molecule to determine which element goes where. When they have completed all of the major molecules in an object, there is a short, humorous video.
Students can build as few or as many elements and compounds as they need to gain confidence in their abilities. Going to “Setting” allows students to quickly “Reset game” so that they repeatedly build the elements and molecules.
In all, this an excellent app for new physical science and beginning chemistry students and the price is certainly right!
Great interactive periodic table app, free!