February 1, 2014 (Vol. 34, No. 3)
Strong Points: Unique take on the periodic table
Weak Points: Requires in-app purchase to build entire table
Free (with in-app upgrade)
A warning right now for people who get motion sickness: the Nuclear app may not be for you. This app, which offers a different take on teaching the periodic table, has students experiment with atom stability by adding protons, neutrons, and electrons to create individual chemical elements. If the balance of atomic particles is not correct, the resulting unstable isotope will degrade right in front of you. So, why the warning about motion sickness? In an attempt to show “realistic” particle movement, the atomic particles are constantly in motion, with electrons quickly spinning in their orbitals around a rotating nucleus. The “Bohr” viewing option does slow the particles down some and allows better visualization of the electron orbitals as students come to know them through chemistry textbook diagrams, but there is still a lot going on on the screen. The free version of the app lets you build elements up to number 54, but you’ll need to pay $0.99 to build the entire periodic table.