The next step in the story of the home chemistry step...
A child drops a silvery chunk of pure sodium into a flask of water. Almost immediately, the liquid starts to bubble. Sparks, flames, and clouds of gas fill the air.
No need to react with alarm, however. It all takes place on the screen of an iPad.
Lamenting the rarity of chemistry sets with serious, eyebrow-singeing chemicals these days, officials at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia commissioned a virtual equivalent. And it is smoking.
ChemCrafter has been downloaded more than 224,000 times from Apple's iTunes store since it went live April 6, most of them overseas, said Neil Gussman, spokesman for the foundation, based on Chestnut Street. The free app is designed as a game, with players able to accumulate points and acquire more supplies as they complete experiments.
Use your finger to select a test tube from a handsome wooden cabinet, dump the virtual contents into a beaker full of water or acid, and watch what happens. As in real life, sometimes nothing. Or something impressive.
Karl Meyer, 14, of Wynnewood, demonstrated recently by adding some zinc to a flask of concentrated nitric acid, yielding zinc nitrate, water, and a brownish cloud of nitrogen dioxide gas on the screen.
"Really cool," said Meyer, who helped test the game with his 16-year-old sister, Anna, before the launch. The two agreed to help because their mother is a friend of project leader Shelley Wilks Geehr.
Division of Chemical Health and Safety
American Chemical Society
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