Monthly Archives: August 2014

Odyssey Atomic Orbitals – Chemistry App Review

The kind folks at Wavefunction Inc. have supplied me with their full Odyssey general chemistry app suite and I will be reviewing each of these apps throughout the remainder of 2014.

atomic_orbitals_logo

This is the fourth of these reviews, and I will be discussing the Atomic Orbitals app which is available for purchase in the app store for $3.99 CAD (https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/odyssey-atomic-orbitals/id830980902?mt=8)

 

Context:

At VIU in our CHEM 140 class, and most other General Chemistry courses elsewhere, atomic orbitals are examined and explained in terms of the quantum theory. The topic of atomic orbitals and hybridization can be very visual, and yet also abstract with a lot of theory. An app that can help student understanding in this tricky topic would be a great benefit in the CHEM 140 course.

The App:

The interface is very similar to the other Odyssey apps previously reviewed. There is a portion where the orbitals are featured for manipulation and a portion which lists examples and has tabs for a glossary, some additional comments, and questions.  As well, some guidelines towards how students should approach using the app are given in the OBSERVE! tab.

photo 1

The shapes of the orbitals can be clearly observed by clicking on each of the orbitals. Pinch-to-zoom and swiping to rotate gives a full three-dimensional perspective on the orbitals.

Under the Shell Structure of the Atom, the shell number can be chosen, showing the impact of the principal quantum number on the size of the atoms (compare the picture below at n=5, to that above at n=3).

photo 2

 

By selecting any of the 22 main group Chemical Elements provided, a list detailing the number of electrons, number of occupied orbitals, electron pairs/unpaired electrons, electron configuration (with shorthand) and magnetism appears, as well as buttons for each orbital of the atom.

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The glossary has a list of helpful definitions, and multiple choice questions are available under the question section.

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Final Impressions:

I think this is a really helpful app to get across the 3-D nature of the atomic orbitals beyond the scope of the 2-D textbook, and emphasize certain aspects of the quantum theory behind orbitals. For instance, I plan to use this app to show the effect changing the principal quantum number has on the orbital size during my lecture this fall. My main critique is that hybridized orbitals are not included, which are often a trickier subject for students. Hybrid orbitals are also taught in this type of General Chemistry course following atomic orbitals.

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ChemTrix Chemistry Calculator for iPhone – Chemistry App Review

I have downloaded the app ChemTrix Chemistry Calculator by Black Rhino for the iPhone (https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/chemtrix-chemistry-calculator/id549708598?mt=8) while it was briefly free in the appstore. It is currently listed for $3.99 CAD. It has been evaluated on an iPad mini.

ChemTrix_Logo

First Impressions:

The ChemTrix Chemistry Calculator iphone app is exactly as the name advertises, an app to calculate typical chemistry values.

 

Context:

All undergraduate chemistry courses require that some fundamental calculations are performed, both in the lecture and lab. Most calculations are fairly straight forward, as long as students possess the basic skills of unit conversion (dimensional analysis).

 

The App:

It can calculate things like molecular weight, monoisotopic weight, percent composition (by mass) and convert between grams and moles. It is fairly intuitive and easy to use, like a normal calculator, just punch in the number of each element in the molecule and hit enter to view the molecular weight and percent composition.
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At first it appears that you can only choose from some of the more common elements (C, H, N, O, P, S, Cl), but a swipe from right to left gives a complete alphabetical list. As well, it lists a surprisingly large number of commonly used organic groups, ions, ligands and the history of your previous calculations. Embarrassingly, this swipe feature eluded me at first! When in doubt, carefully consult the help menu or contact the Black Rhino support team, who were very quick to respond to my query. I have also been informed that if  ChemTrix is run on a 4″ iOS device,  a row of four programmable buttons will also be available (this review was performed on an iPad mini).

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Tap on the formula again and it opens up the mass/moles/molar mass converter where you can enter a mass or number of moles to convert between the two. There is also a concentration calculator, allowing you to determine the concentration.

 

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The units can be changed between 4 SI prefix options (eg. mol, mmol, µmol and nmol).

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However, this app is fairly limited, as you can only choose 7 of the more common elements (C, H, N, O, P, S, Cl), which may work for many simple organic molecules, but that is about it. You can select certain R-groups (like methyl, ethyl, phenyl etc.)

 

I was disappointed in the “Mass Distribution” plot, as there are no axis present. For example, I put in the simple molecule C2H3Cl: Chlorine has two common isotopes 35C and 37C, in a roughly 3:1 ratio. Therefore a signal should be present at approximately 62 and at 64, in a 3:1 ratio. This is not clearly shown in the spectrum provided below, but can be found by clicking upon it to pull up a peak intensities menu.

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A help menu is available and is well written.

photo 1 (2)

Final Impressions:

Overall, this app can quickly determine molecular weight and perform some conversions, and has a surprisingly large amount of groups, ions and ligands programmed in. However, the conversions it can perform could be done fairly quickly by a relatively competent grade 11 student with a calculator, pen and paper. There is an iPad version of ChemTrix available, which appears to have expanded functionality, but I know many of my students use their iPhones (as a calculator particularly for quick calculations). I will be reviewing the iPad version in the near future.

 

Disclosure:

The author downloaded the software from the app store while it was briefly free, and received no other compensation.

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Odyssey Electron Sharing – Chemistry ipad App Review

The kind folks at Wavefunction Inc. have supplied me with their full Odyssey general chemistry app suite and I will be reviewing each of these apps throughout the remainder of 2014.

odyssey_electron_sharing

This is the third of these reviews, and I will be discussing the Electron Sharing app which is available for purchase in the app store for $3.99 CAD (https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/odyssey-electron-sharing/id849135421?mt=8)

 

First Impressions:

At first, I was very curious what this app could bring to the table that the previously reviewed VSEPR (http://wordpress.viu.ca/key2chem/2014/07/03/odyssey-vsepr-app-chemistry-ipad-app-review/)  and Polar Bonds (http://wordpress.viu.ca/key2chem/2014/07/28/odyssey-polar-bonds-and-molecules-chemistry-ipad-app-review/)  apps could not. Unfortunately, I was a bit let down, as discussed in my final impressions.

Context:

Most first year general chemistry courses spend time discussing orbitals, electron density and bonding theories. At VIU our CHEM 140 is no exception.

 

The App:

The interface is very similar to the other Odyssey apps previously reviewed. There is a portion where the molecules are featured for manipulation and a portion which lists examples and has tabs for a glossary, some additional comments, and questions.  As well, some guidelines towards how students should approach using the app are given in the OBSERVE! tab.

photo 1

In this app, the molecules are only displayed as nuclei and electron clouds. Molecules can be rotated with a finger swipe, and expanded/shrunk with the pinch of the thumb and index finger. Nuclei can be shown as small spheres, medium-size spheres or the molecule can be shown as a space filling model.

photo 3

 

As well, the internuclear distance, and angle tools which have been featured in the two previously reviewed apps are also available.

photo 2

The main novel feature of this app is that the user may adjust the electron density shown, from very low where almost all (99.9%) of the electrons are enclosed by the isosurface, to very high where only 30% of the electrons are enclosed by the isosurface. There are 30 example molecules that can be examined, and some multiple choice questions are pre-loaded into the app. Similar to the previous apps reviewed, the questions can be scored automatically by the app.

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Final Impressions:

Ultimately, I believe the goal of this app is to provide students/users with a view of molecules beyond the simple ball and stick model. It does this by focusing on nuclei and electron clouds, and does allow for the manipulation of the electron density shown. However, it seems the other Odyssey apps accomplish this already with electrostatic potential maps etc., and almost all modern textbooks include electron cloud and electrostatic potential diagrams already (granted, they are static in nature).

I do not believe there is enough to this app to justify the $3.99 pricetag, and I think many students would lose interest after a few minutes. This app was a little disappointing after reviewing the previous Odyssey apps.

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The Chemistry of Antioxidants

This video serves as a brief introduction to the science and controversy around the topic of antioxidants. It is part of the monthly Chemistry video blog project.

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August 18, 2014 · 1:09 pm

GHS Video

A video tutorial which explains the new globally harmonized system for classifying and labelling chemicals. This is taking effect in Canada in 2015, and will replace/enhance the current WHMIS system.

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August 12, 2014 · 4:03 pm