Review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2017
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Chairs! Organic Chemistry Game

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Learn chemistry chair conformations through a tactile puzzle game

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • Science

Skills
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
9–12
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Pros: Fun, fast way to learn how to draw chair conformations.

Cons: Users will need to fill in the conceptual details with other learning resources.

Bottom Line: This fun puzzle game helps students draw chair conformations; teachers will need to add context.

Teachers can use Chairs! to help students practice chair conformations. Demonstrate how to use the app first by projecting your device with a digital projector. Show students how correct swipes will turn the molecule green; otherwise, students could practice incorrectly over and over, without realizing it's wrong. Then let the kids play with the tutorial and try the practice game. 

After practicing for a while, have students compare notes and scores. Why are some scoring higher than others? What tips can they share with the class? To move beyond this app to drawing chair conformations on their own, kids will need some directions on how to draw the carbon skeleton themselves; the app provides that for them.

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Chairs! Organic Chemistry Game helps students master the sometimes tricky chair conformations in organic chemistry. After going through a short tutorial, students can try a practice round or jump right into the game. The bond direction for one conformation is provided and students have to figure out the direction of the bonds when the conformation is flipped. Users drag their fingertips across the screen to draw axial and equatorial bonds. Once they are done practicing, students can compete. Each correct swipe of their fingers earns a point. The faster you swipe, the higher your ranking. Games are scaffolded, adding more difficulty as students master each of the 13 levels. 

Chairs! is a targeted tool, helping kids learn the specific skill of drawing chair conformations. It's fun and slightly addictive, so given a little time, students will get very good at drawing the axial and equatorial bonds. However, students will not move deeper into the concept; by playing the game they will not understand why chair conformations occur the way they do.

Users can flip a ring with the swipe of a finger, providing a powerful visual aid. This helps students with the spatial reasoning necessary for organic chemistry in a way that's not possible with simple pen and paper. Tutorials take students quickly through key ideas. However, students can only move forward within the tutorial; it would be helpful to move back to revisit an idea.

Overall Rating

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

Swiping fun -- like Candy Crush -- makes students want to play. It's challenging enough to keep them coming back.

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

Playing helps users improve their spatial reasoning and skills while drawing chair conformations. It doesn't delve into the actual reasons for this phenomena.

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

Tutorials are available with some cues while playing. Users would benefit from more specific feedback when they get problems wrong.


Common Sense Reviewer
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

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