Review by Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2014
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Mahjong Chem

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Science remix of classic game lacks helpful feedback or hints

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: The overall concept is great, and kids who really know about chemistry could have a lot of fun playing.

Cons: Hints don't help kids learn about chemistry, and although each game is timed and scored, data can't be tracked. Kids without experience in chemistry and/or Mahjong will likely be lost.

Bottom Line: This free game may be worth a try for advanced kids who want some extra practice.

Mahjong Chem could work well as a practice tool for kids who have an understanding of essential chemistry concepts. You could use the game as a reward for kids who finish assignments efficiently, or kids could use the game to help them prepare for an exam. Since learning is neither assessed nor tracked, kids could work in pairs and compete against other teams for the best scores and times. Be sure kids choose a game that is aligned with their current lessons. 

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Open the game and you're ready to play! A board of tiles immediately appears, and the clock begins. Kids have to tap on pairs of tiles that match, and the match depends on which game they're playing. The default game is Oxidation, during which kids match a compound/ion tile with the correct oxidation number tile. If the tiles are a match, both of them disappear. Kids have to eliminate all of the tiles on the board in order to win. Each game is timed, and kids earn points for correct matches and lose points for incorrect matches. Kids can choose from 14 different games including Electrolytes, Acids and Bases, Solubility, and even classic Mahjong for free play. When kids tap the Show Hint button, the matching tiles are highlighted.

Kids who are knowledgeable about chemistry can get some engaging practice with concepts like oxidation, acids and bases, electron configuration, and more. And there's something about combining chemistry practice with a fun game like Mahjong that's unique and refreshing. However, the game falls short with regard to learning. The hints only show which two tiles are a match. This can help move the game along, but kids won't learn anything about chemistry. Each round is timed and scored, but since data isn't stored anywhere, kids can't view their progress. Adding some more instructional hints and the ability to track progress would greatly improve this game's learning potential.

Overall Rating

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

If kids know what they're doing, the game can be very engaging. Some kids might just tap on tiles to eliminate them without fully understanding the game. 

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

The idea of combining chemistry practice with a classic game is a good one, but the app misses an opportunity to reinforce concepts and track progress. 

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

Kids can get hints, but the hints are unrelated to learning about chemistry. Detailed instructions are lacking, and kids can't track data. 

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