Review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2015
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Arloon Chemistry

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Build, name, explore 3-D chemical models with augmented-reality tool

Subjects & skills
  • Science

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: Kids can build their own models of over 3,000 3-D chemical structures.

Cons: The Learn section could offer more ways for kids to get help when they're stuck.

Bottom Line: A cool way to help kids learn the names and structures of compounds using interactive 3-D technology.

Arloon Chemistry is best used as a way for high school or college chemistry students to practice concepts they've already learned in class. Some students could get overwhelmed if the app is used as the only tool from which to teach these ideas. Consider using Arloon Chemistry as part of a review activity. Pair kids up, each with his or her own device, to compete using the timed exercises.

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Arloon Chemistry lets kids name and build chemical models of binary and ternary compounds. They can learn about oxides, peroxides, hydrides, binary salts, hydracids, hydroxides, ternary salts, oxyanions, and oxoacids. Each type of compound comes with a basic description, a formula rule, and nomenclature tips. From there, students can work through a tutorial on building compound structures.

In the Formulation section, kids can practice creating their own compounds. Immediate feedback lets them know if the compound they've created actually exists. Exercises test kids' ability to figure out the name of a compound from its formula and vice versa. Kids can work at their own pace by picking the number and type of exercises. They can also time themselves to build fluency or shut off the timer to explore at a slower pace, building confidence with the content.

Arloon Chemistry's 3-D images will help kids see why elements with certain oxidation numbers will combine in a way that paper and pencil can't match.  But if a kid doesn't know what an oxidation number is, there's no way to click on that word and get more information, which would be a big help. The app's augmented-reality features let kids use their devices' cameras to make it look like they're holding the 3-D models they've created right in their hands. Though this is a fun trick, it doesn't add much value: The same rotations and movements can be done simply using the touchscreen.

A bit more detail and guidance for beginning chemistry students would be a welcome addition to this already-solid exploration tool. As it stands, Arloon Chemistry offers some scaffolding by providing examples, as well as by initially providing oxidation numbers for users. However, it's important to note that a student who already struggles with chemistry might need more support than the app currently provides.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Students will find the immediate feedback and interactive images more engaging than more traditional whiteboard or worksheet chemistry practice.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Content is accurate, using up-to-date IUPAC nomenclature. Kids can work through seemingly endless opportunities for practice.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Content is available in English or Spanish. Additional how-to and help materials within the app would better support beginning and advanced students alike.

Common Sense Reviewer
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

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