May 1, 2018 (Vol. 38, No. 9)
Strong Points: Freedom to explore, large inventory of chemicals and tools
Weak Points: Somewhat expensive
$8.99 (in-app purchases)
It may be fairly expensive, but the Chemist by THIX app is a very satisfying virtual chemistry playground. With a blank canvas before them, app users are provided close to 20 scientific “apparatuses” (beakers, Bunsen burners, funnels, etc.); over 200 inorganic chemical compounds; and six “tools” (a pH probe, a thermometer, a pipette, etc.). Users can then measure, mix, and heat chemicals as they wish, observing the results as they go. Among the more exciting results are explosions and color-changing reactions. In most instances, a random combination yields an inert mixture (i.e., a boring result). Consequently, some prior chemistry knowledge is useful to guide one’s explorations. To reveal the apparatuses, chemicals, and tools, users simply tap the small circles displayed at the top of the screen. Different units of measurement can be selected from the bottom of the screen. The app includes a basic Periodic Table, and it also generates a “lab report” summarizing the user’s actions during a given session.