13th February, 2018

Chemistry Revision Resources You Need To Succeed

By Matt J

As the chemistry joke goes (yes, those exist) you should never trust atoms, after all they make up everything. Fortunately, you can trust us when we share these great resources for the study and teaching of all kinds of chemistry. Blogs, video courses, games, apps, and more. When deploying these in your lessons, you’ll definitely get a reaction trending more towards Caesium and water than the Noble gasses and… anything… 

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Best Chemistry Revision Apps

Best Chemistry Revision Games

Best Chemistry Revision Videos

Best Chemistry Revision Blogs

Best Chemistry Revision Resources


Best Chemistry Revision Apps

Periodic Table – The Royal Society of Chemistry

A list of the best online chemistry resources without including something from the royal society of Chemistry isn’t a list worth its sodium chloride. This app offers detailed information on all 118 of the currently discovered elements, from dainty Hydrogen to super heavy Oganesson. Tapping on any one of these elements gives you all the information on it you could possibly want, and some you wouldn’t even think of. Everything from the obvious like atomic weight and number, to the slightly more intriguing such as state at 20C (room temperature), election configuration, discovery, and principle uses, down to the deeply entertaining, such as the transcript from an entire podcast on the subject.

Who is it for? 

With its wide range of information it’s great for anyone who wants to be better informed. Ideal for students looking for a quick reference, teachers who want broader information to offer in class, and tutors looking to reinforce their library and pepper their sessions with extra engaging information.

MolPrime+

There are lots of apps out there that help enable budding students and professional chemists alike to draw and design chemical formulas and structures. None are quite as intuitive or comprehensive as MolPrime+. Drawing is one thing, being able to share is something else entirely. With systems that allow you to access public archives and calculate different chemical properties based on the components of your compound, MolPrime+ is truly versatile, engaging, and profoundly educational.

Who is it for? 

The level that this is pitched towards is definitely A-Level and above. A useful tool for students to take away with them, and for tutors to show and engage with in sessions. Like many designing and using apps like this, possibly a little too in depth to show and use in a classroom environment, but could be encouraged as a download to do homework on.

Atoms in motion

In science, as in art, it’s hard to draw lines between fields and styles. Physics and chemistry blend here in an app designed to show students how atoms work when in full motion. Using complex and intelligent dynamic movement algorithms, this app makes it easy to see how atoms work beyond the static, solar-system-esque diagrams we’re all used to.

Who is it for? 

Again, this is a higher level field, but with a more classroom focused vision, as it is more limited to one tool rather than so many. More useful in a tutorial one-on-one setting.

Complete Chemistry

In chemistry, labels are always important, a lesson that many of the people naming these apps have taken deeply to heart. Complete chemistry is an app that does exactly what it says on the tin. Provides a complete and comprehensive overview of the subject of chemistry, broken down systematically and in a clearly structured way that can allow anyone and everyone to grasp the fundamentals firmly enough to take their studies to the next level.

Who is it for? 

Ideal for students as a revision or backup learning tool, great for teachers as a means to assign extra after-school study for students, and useful for tutors to plan sessions around.

Wolfram General Chemistry Course Assistant

The educational giant that is Wolfram Research has very successfully applied its computational approach to learning to the field of study of that which makes up everything around us. Allowing the user to select from forty five different chemical calculation systems, this tool speeds up and better processes the kinds of work that pen and paper is a starting point for, but that computers and computation take to a new level.

Who is it for? 

Perfect for students who want a faster way to do the parts of their homework they properly understand, and also the course materials make excellent revision tools. Less useful in a tutoring or classroom environment.

Best Chemistry Revision Games

SpaceChem

The story and events might not be real, but the chemicals very much are. SpaceChem uses the subjects of chemistry and computer programming to create a unique, entertaining, and deeply engaging experience. The brilliant thing about this game is that while it definitely has educational value, it was always designed as a game first, and education second. The game’s creator has even gone so far as to label it an “Anti-Educational” game, with its very free and undirected play and learning style.

Who is it for? 

Ideal for teachers to use in classrooms as a means to let children’s minds roam free in a game that teaches them without them even realising. Ideal for a wide range of ages thanks to its style, arguably all the way from lower secondary to early higher-education and beyond.

ChemCaper

Worldbuilding is a key aspect of good storytelling, ever more so when the story is part of the game your playing. ChemCaper takes the worldbuilding style of a classic Role-Playing-Game system, infused with inspiration from the world of chemistry. With compound crafting recipes, apparatus tracing games, and landscapes inspired by particular elements, or element groups, this game seeks to inspire children to better understand a truly riveting subject.

Who is it for? 

The style and theme may appeal to gamers of all ages, but in terms of educational value, this is largely for early secondary up to GCSE. A-level students may find some of the content very familiar already.

Professor Why Chemistry

While it’s true that you generally don’t start learning chemistry as its own specific area until much later in your educational career, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing for primary aged children to be enjoying about the subject. Using a unique system of augmented reality, Professor Why Chemistry allows children to play, experiment, study, and learn without the dangers associated with being exposed to any number of harmful chemicals. When you can be so interactive with such a curious collection of objects, it's no wonder to see why the children in the trailers are so very enthused.

Who is it for? 

Primary aged children only – excellent for teachers with some small body of specialist knowledge, which can back them up as these games and lessons progress.

Minecraft: Chemistry Update

Following Microsoft’s purchase of Minecraft, the blocky landscaped worlds have become a tool not just of sparkling creative whimsy, but also of great educational and instructional value. With its focus on crafting and reactions caused by combining and blending parts and pieces of all kind, chemistry is a natural educational fit.

Who is it for?

Ideal for parents who want to use their children’s passion to develop their skills further. Would probably only suit younger children, primary through to mid secondary, unless they are already a fan of Minecraft.

Chemistry Fluxx

While this might not be an online resource, it earns its inclusion on this list because of its supreme interactivity, it’s wide levels of creativity, and the fact that with all this fun you can actually learn and understand better too. A table-top card game where the only rule is that the rules are constantly in flux, this is a great way to bond over a subject that can so often be so very complex.

Who is it for? 

Parents and tutors are the ones who will get the very most out of a copy of this game. It can also work well in a classroom if you have several sets and break people up into groups of three to five.

Backside Attack

While British sensibilities may be slightly confused/perturbed by the naming convention being used here, we can indeed confirm that this game is focused on chemistry, rather than biology. That said though, organic chemistry is the particular sub-branch this game looks into, focusing on the SN2 reaction. One professor and six students from UCLA created this app to turn complex and abstract ideas into more grounded game mechanics. Ideal for getting a more concrete handle on some of the more obtuse concepts in organic chemistry

Who is it for?

This will mostly be for those in upper secondary and higher education. Not really something that would work well in a classroom scenario, but could find a place in a tutoring session or as a homework assignment.

Best Chemistry Revision Videos

Crash Course: Chemistry

The opening line of the first episode of this series says it all. “Hello, I’m Hank Green and I want to teach you chemistry, but please… do not run away screaming.” It would be remise to include a list of online resources on chemistry and not include one of the flagship series of Complexly productions. A tour de force that systematically and comprehensively covers the ground work of the entire field of chemistry. Hank Green is entertaining and erudite in a sweeping series that begins with atomic theory, and ends with the global carbon cycle.

Who is it for? 

Teachers who want to include video that they can rely on as part of their course material, students who want to revise. Like all these videos though, tutors may not find them so useful as videos tend to be less good in one-to-one learning environments, though they may be useful as jumping off points for a particular session.

Sci Show

Returning again to an outpouring of the Greens and Complexly, while Sci Show covers all fields of science there is a substantial body of work devoted specifically to chemistry, and it provides a valuable added bonus not offered in the earlier mentioned series. While Crash Course is a comprehensive course of education, Sci Show is a magazine programme with particular emphasis on niche subjects. Subjects that much of the time are making the news in one way or other.

Who is it for? 

Perfect for school classrooms where you want to show how cool chemistry can be, and how the things you are talking about in the abstract apply to the wider world. And just as Crash Course can be a great jumping off point for a tutorial session, a Sci Show episode could be perfect for concluding it, showing just how what you learned impacts day to day life.

Periodic Videos

From one internet productivity polymath to another. This collective work lead by Brady Haran and Sir Martyn Poliakoff has lead to a series of 118 videos on every element of the periodic table. Exploring each elements chemical properties, the history of its discovery, and how its used in the wider world, this series is excellent for putting chemistry in its most elemental context.

Who is it for? 

Ideal for anyone interested in science in general, or chemistry in particular, it’s also great for adding unexpected spice to a classroom lesson. While it might be difficult to structure an entire lesson around a single element, it’s certainly something to engage and entertain students of all levels.

Khan Academy Chemistry

The Khan Academy is perhaps the single leading force in worldwide online free educational resources. In contrast to Crash Course where the episodes are shorter and more about introducing the fundamentals of a subject, the Khan Academy’s lessons are much longer, more like a full lecture, and the source material goes far farther into the deep detail of a specific matter. Also, while they are no doubt interesting, there is less of a focus on entertainment than in Crash Course.

Who is it for? 

This one is pretty universally for students. The lessons can be very long, and so would subsume an entire classroom time, or replace all of a tutor’s attention. However both tutors and teachers would be well advised to use these materials for a “Flipped classroom” style exercise, where they give students one of these lectures to watch at home, and then ask questions/discuss it when back in class.

Reactions

A video series from the American Chemistry Society that asks all the important questions. Questions like “What is your snot saying?”, “What Do Electrolytes Actually Do?”, and “What is Catnip, really?”. With questions and angles like this, students can see curiosity expressed in a way they themselves would actually state it, making the series enjoyable, relatable, and just plain fun. It’s not all games and jollies though, with serious current affairs videos including “Why Chemistry marched for science”, “The legal battle over CRISPR”, and “Is fluoride in water safe?”.

Who is it for? 

Most of these would be best suited for students in their own time, but a tutor might find them cool to share at the end of a lesson to show chemistry in a real life, or amusing context.

NileRed

We all remember the parts of chemistry classes we liked the most. The ones where we’d watch Potassium explode in water, or where the dazzling glare of burning magnesium was further brightened by placing it in a jar of pure oxygen. NileRed understands this attraction to be central to the appeal of chemistry, which is why the opening video on their youtube channel page is the famous “Pharaoh’s Serpent” demonstration video. Or it is schooling on how to get an ancient culture to treat you as a wizard, should you ever accidentally trip into a time machine.

Who is it for? 

A great little spice for a school lesson, when the experiment in question is too dangerous to do in the classroom, or something to show in a tutoring session where you can say “This is what happens when you mix…”

Tyler DeWitt

Sitting somewhere between Crash Course and Khan Academy in terms of style and length of video episodes, Tyler DeWitt focuses particular attention on the gritty and down to the coal face work of mathematics as part of the process of studying chemistry. He often describes his work as being a video textbook, which is exceptionally accurate. With following on courses, and exercises worked through on screen, this is definitely not a series to dip in and out of at your leisure.

Who is it for? 

Because of the length and focus of these videos, its much better suited to students studying alone, as part of a revision session, or as something for teachers to assign as homework.

ChemSurvival Enterprises

Much like the spectrum of the reactivity of alkali metals, chemistry videos on youtube often exist on a variety of spectrums in terms of length, formality, style, and subject matter. ChemSurvival Enterprises is definitely on the more formal end of the style scale, but also much shorter, and less dependent on a course-like linear structure, with short collections of videos on a single subject to provide firm grounding in the fundamentals.

Who is it for?

An ideal revision tool, but might be a little too formal and straight-laced for a classroom. Maybe better for higher education/very late secondary school students.

HooplaKidzLab

Who says that science is something only done in labs or schools or universities? HooplaKidzLab is a series that emphatically and dogmatically rejects the conventional notion of “don’t try this at home” with all kinds of experiments, tests, and all round fun exercises that can be done in the comfort (relatively speaking) of your own home. Just make sure an adult is on hand, for safety reasons.

Who is it for? 

Younger students will benefit the most, probably within the mid-to-late primary/early secondary bracket. Parents will also find it useful as a means of teaching children that science can be fun, and tutors of younger children might want to use these as inspirations for what to do in their sessions.

Best Chemistry Revision Blogs

Chemistry Blog

While the name might be uninspired, it does follow the chemistry tradition of being exactly what it says on the tin. With examinations of everything from the chemistry behind how hair straighteners/curlers work to the science of superheroes, this is a truly enjoyable collection of crumbs that form the online chemistry resource pie. It also works as an exceptional hub space for other online science resources, allowing you to find blogs, videos, and graphic design work that you otherwise may not have discovered.

Who is it for? 

Teachers mostly, although higher education students may also enjoy the content. But teachers will get the most out of this with inspiration and content for lessons. Tutors may find some of the specific examples a little too in-depth in a single area for one-on-one sessions. 

Education in Chemistry

It was beyond inevitable that the Royal Society of Chemistry was going to come up again. In this in-depth blog/magazine website on the subject of just how we impart the wisdom of the elements and their interactions to students, we see all kinds of areas discussed and debated. From the best ways to make practical experiment lessons more useful, to the pros of pairs when partaking in practical science. While there is a subscription service here, which makes this option a little more requiring of consideration than some others on this list, the high quality content and material is available for sampling first, so you can see if you would truly get the full worth from it.

Who is it for? 

Teachers definitely, tutors possibly. There is too much inside baseball for this to be truly useful for students.

Educational Innovations

A blog whose main focus is that most classically American institution that has been the framing device for so many great children’s science fiction films/tv shows. The science fair. While perhaps some of the discussions here might seem a little too narrow for a broad audience, the focus allows for a great series of meditations on subjects like self directed learning, the limits of practical study outside of the classroom, and the broad range of topics that can be considered when children apply their fully creativity to scientific questions.

Who is it for? 

Teachers who want to help their children complete self-directed learning tasks, or schools who want to organise their own science fairs.

Reflections of a Science Teacher

Continuing the “does what it says on the tin” theme, this blog is indeed the collected reflections of an experienced science teacher. The kinds of reflections that have value in the online space, as they provide a sense of kinship and camaraderie to a profession notoriously riven with stress and difficulty. With posts on relatable issues ranging from how to deal with shy students, to the value of gold stars/badges, and passion pieces on how to teach certain areas, and the value of science more generally, there is something here for every teacher.

Who is it for? 

Teachers pretty exclusively. Tutors will have very different experiences, so while they might find value in some of the science materials discussed, more broadly this is for people who regularly find themselves leading a classroom.

Mr John Dexter Blogs About School 

There’s a certain oddity about infrequently updating blogs. Sometimes they’re just projects that have been abandoned, sometimes they are the work of people with poor time management skills. And then sometimes, as in the case of the comic writer Ally Brosh, the youtuber CGP Grey, and the school blogger John Dexter, its because it takes time and experience to produce something so very good. Looking into the question of the values of practicals, and what dangers there are in them being side-lined, and the pros/cons of a Student Teacher’s work while doing their PGCE, this blog offers lessons and wisdom directly from the coalface.

Who is it for? 

Teachers exclusively, perhaps even more so than the previous piece, since the focus is almost exclusively educational inside baseball.

Adrian Dingle's Chemistry Pages

The blog, musings, and reflections of a teacher and textbook author whose career has crossed continents and whose collected works could hold open some of Europe’s very heaviest castle doors. Adrian Dingle offers short and snappy blog posts going into his own work as a teacher and a writer of textbooks, providing a curious and intriguing angle into a different slice of the education system.

Who is it for? 

Curious teachers who want to know more about successful drafting’s of textbooks, or who want to see some ideas from someone with an exceptional level of experience.

Undergraduate research in Chemistry

The tin labelling industry continues to successfully dodge libel actions. Undergraduates can often justifiably feel as though their work is some kind of intermediary larval stage, and that to be doing the “real” chemistry, you have to be at a postgraduate or postdoctoral level. This blog seeks to redress that balance, and goes into depth about the life, work, and breakthroughs achieved by younger, technically less educated but no less intelligent undergraduates. Covering everything from the best way to engage disabled students in the course to how to be comeptant for a teaching position, this is a unique and truly valuable resource.

Who is it for? 

The principle audience is somewhat obvious from the name, but aside from undergraduate students and late sixth-formers, teachers will also find much of the material useful to A) show students what University can be like beyond drunken benders, and B) give them the realisation that university is for actual breakthroughs, and they are not denied that by being at the earlier stage of a higher educational career.

Teaching High School Chemistry

Tin aptly labelled once more, but more specifically for the American market again, but as is often the case with these issues, teaching has certain universal qualities that cross national and linguistic borders with more ease than many would expect. There’s a certain degree of whimsy to some of the posts, filled with interesting discussions of the history of chemistry and how it relates to current events. Examples include focusing on the South African drought situation, and the Radium girls of the early 20th/late 19th centuries.

Who is it for? 

Teachers and students will take inspiration from these posts to spice up their understandings of the subject. Tutors too will find interesting anecdotes and valuable lessons to share with those they take under their wings.

The Sustainable Schoolteacher

The stories and ideas of Brandie Freeman tell of a woman trying to make her student’s school experience better and more engaging through the lens of environmental sustainability, good mental health, and general emotional wellbeing. While on some level this can all sound rather hippy dippy and potentially even insubstantial, Ms Freeman really delves deep into her own experiences, and comes back with ideas and anecdotes that resonate with sincerity and warmth in a way that many teachers would do well to aspire to.

Who is it for? 

Teachers principally, although some of the ideas discussed could suit a tutorial environment.

Master Organic Chemistry

From musing on teaching to actually doing the teaching. This blog focuses on the complexities and difficulties of organic chemistry, and offers an online learning platform that is better suited to people who might sometimes find the pace of videos too much and the style of textbooks a little too dry.

Who is it for? 

Higher education students mostly, and teachers looking to offer homework assignments or flipped classroom materials.

Pictures from an Organic Chemistry Laboratory

A picture may be worth a thousand words, and some of the words around the picture can be very cold and clear to the point of scientific precision, but the artistry of the work on display here shows a deep and abiding passion and care for the subject. Something to move away from the words and the maths of the subject, this blog shows us something of what real labs look like, and that they can be, and often are, beautiful.

Who is it for? 

Anyone with a passion for chemistry, and teachers and tutors who want to give their students a little flavour of research in the real world.

Doctor Galactic and the Lab Coat Cowboy

Offering some strong evidence that tin-label naming style isn’t all chemists know how to do, Doctor Galactic offers us a blog focused on the people, personalities, and most prominent breakthroughs of the chemistry world. With their attention towards the RealTimeChem awards, this blog is a great opportunity to see what is going on in the world of chemistry today, and how it relates to the wider world of the subject.

Who is it for? 

Teachers with a mind to bring more of the frontier of the subject into the classroom, and students who want to better understand the world of professional chemists.

Emily Rose Seeber

This teacher’s blog extends well beyond the realms of chemistry and teaching, but at the same time gives us the valuable insights into both areas, and a glimpse into the minds of the people at the forefront. By straddling the line between a personal, academic, and professional blog, Ms Seeber creates a fascinating collection of thoughts, arguments, ideas, and above all, inspirations for teachers and parents alike. Her argument on why she is a feminist rather than an equalist is convicting and impassioned, her writings on Primo Levis’s The Periodic Table shows the value of cross subject integration and the beauty of both science and literature, and the story of how she ended up on Page 3 (of the Times) is riveting.

Who is it for? 

Teachers who want a sense of camaraderie with their fellows, and students who want to better understand the teaching profession as a potential option, or just people with intellectual curiosity who want to see the outpourings of an intelligent and passionate practitioner of education.

The Chronicle Flask

A wonderfully whimsical name carries with content from someone who clearly feels passionately about espousing the veracity of science, and the dangers of untruth. Battling subjects as wide ranging as anti-vaxxers, black salve (yes this about chemistry, not history) and whether or not there are any good chemistry jokes out there. Often topical, the takes of these topics are hard ground in the gritty reality of evidence, experimentation, and empiricism.

Who is it for? 

Teachers who want to tackle some of the horrors of fake science news that so often plague social media in particular, and the internet in general.

Is This Going to Be On The Exam?

A baneful question if ever there was one, but it’s the title of a blog that is anything but. Looking deeply into technical questions of good teaching practice, this blog is very much a teacher writing for teachers. Focuses on the merits of digital badge systems, the reality of conferences, and the best way to organise a webinar suggest that this is a teacher and a researcher into education practices who wants to look at the bleeding edge of study in their field.

Who is it for? 

A frontier pushing teacher or educational academic who wants to see lively and intriguing discussions on what’s going on in their field. Students and tutors will probably find the academic and institutional side of this a little too inside baseball.

BSRM Blog

A blog that is looking deep into the abyss of the cutting edge of chemistry. Specifically, biological synthesis. While titles of posts that include the words “Maoecrystal V” and “Enantioselective” can be daunting, this is written as a blog and thus is ‘marginally’ more accessible.

Who is it for? 

This is something to offer for the gifted and elite students you are either tutoring or have in your class. It also gives you an opportunity to reverse engineer the higher end levels of chemistry for the class to show them just what real world chemists are dealing with. While that can obviously be daunting, if they can get to grips with it even a little, what may be in their future could be in their grasp now.

Compound Interest

Randel Monroe of the wildly successful and hilariously funny web-comic XKCD predicted that by 2019 all information will be delivered to the public in the form of incredibly friendly, helpful, and tall, infographics. Compound Interest may not be focusing on the “tall” part, but every other area there is accurate. Andy Brunning creates brilliant infographic designs to elucidate everything from the compound galantamine connects snowdrops, Alzheimer's, and chemical warfare, the chemistry of broccoli, and the 2017 Nobel prize for chemistry. There are also regular infographics on the week, month, and year in Chemistry, to keep people up to date and engaged in current events in the chemistry world.

Who is it for? 

Teachers who want to better decorate their classrooms in a way that shows the true essence of chemistry, and students who want to fill their revision folders with something better designed than their notes.

Best Chemistry Revision Resources

Creative Chemistry

Test tubes, Bunsen burners, Copper sulphate, and magnesium strips can only take you so far. Sometimes you need students to pick up their pens and paper, and actually write down what they’ve learned, how they’ve learned it, and what it means. This is where resources like Creative Chemistry comes in. Filled with worksheets and quizzes for both GCSE and A-level, this is an ideal resource to find something to keep the class engaged.

Who is it for?

Busy chemistry teachers who need more time to focus on the students in the lessons.

Chemical Formula

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a illustration or diagram could be valued at least ten times that, certainly if it comes from Chemical Formula. With visual displays for the formula behind everyday chemicals from salt and sugar to caffeine and chalk, this website gives teachers the ability to zoom in more closely to the world and show their students just how chemistry works in everyday life.

Who is it for? 

Teachers to show students the chemistry that surrounds them, and tutors who want to do the same.

We hope you find these resources useful and discover some favourites along the way. Let us know if you try any of these out in the comments below.

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