Looking for a fun way to teach the Periodic Table of Elements to your kids? Elementeo is one of the best I've found.
I first heard about the card/board game on a homeschool blog, Another Step to Take. I immediately went looking for more information because it looked like exactly the sort of well made, hands-on, sophisticated science game that our family (and my readers) would love.
The game is summed up on the Elementeo website as:
The Elementeo Chemistry Card Game (v2) brings elements, compounds, chemistry, and science to life. Elementeo includes five different levels (element, reaction, compound, alchemy, and fusion) and has 50 elements, 25 compounds, and 25 alchemy cards, not to mention blank cards for you to create characters of your own. The goal of the game is to cross the field, capture your opponent’s electrons, and reduce them to zero. Elementeo (V2) can be played by 2 – 4 people and is recommended for kids of ages 8 and above.
Elementeo was created by Stanford University student Anshul Samar, starting when he was only a boy himself. He explained on the Elementeo website:
I got the idea for Elementeo in a relatively boring 4th grade summer. I used to love card games – but when I asked my parents to play with me, they said that the games I would play had no education. A couple years later, in 6th grade, I decided to start prototyping and building Elementeo. Pouring through chemistry books, I immersed myself in the elements. I saw personalities in chemical properties, and started to write about the elements and their hobbies, emotions, and quirks. I started to build prototypes for a board game I called Elementeo. The best part was that kids would not have to know any chemistry to play.
The first 5,000 copies of the game were created when Anshul was a high school freshman, and sites like Amazon.com and the MIT Museum started selling them. Since then, the original game has sold out and version 2 was released last year.
I contacted the Anshul and asked for a review copy of the game, which he generously supplied. My nine year-old son was happy to test it with me, and he asks to play all the time now (which I don't mind, since I enjoy it too!). My five year-old son is also in love with the game, and can play it with a little bit of assistance even though he is well below the recommended age of eight and up. Even my teenage daughters think it's fun. It fit in perfectly with my 7th grade daughter's chemistry curriculum.
This is a phenomenal game that really does a wonderful job of making chemistry enjoyable and teaching real science.
Some of the things I like about the game include:
- It is well made with beautifully illustrated cards. The art is amazing.
- There are many levels of play, so it can grow with the child (and with the child's mastery of the material).
- The basic level is easy for even very young children to play.
- Blank cards are included so kids can make their own cards for elements not included (50 are included).
- The cards are cool and have a sense of humor. There are lots of zombies, jokes and other elements (oops, no pun intended!) that make it fresh and fun.
- The number of cards, add-ons and levels means that the game never gets old.
- The elements are very well personified. (Example: "Selenium Sorceress: If you ever smell rotten horseradishes, it's either a wild chemist experimenting with cooking or Selenium getting ready to invade town. With her red glazed potions, poisonous compounds, and army of monster photocopiers and laser printers, who knows what evil plans she has in store? Run!")
- The addition of the higher level cards like compounds and alchemy really add to students' understanding of the elements and how they interact with each other. (Examples: "Compound card: N2O: If you are going to sit on the dentist's chair, use this Nitrous Oxide gas as an anesthetic. But don't inhale it for too long or you'll be laughing forever! This Nitrous Oxide gas makes your opponent laugh uncontrollably making him/her miss the next turn;" or "Alchemy Card: State Transformer: It takes energy to melt, evaporate, condense, freeze, sublime, and transmorph between states of matter. The elements are actors at their finest - with many faces and forms. Heat evaporates cards. For the rest of the game, all of your cards must move diagonally like gases.")
- The game relies on a combination of strategy, attention and luck, meaning multiple ages can play and have equal chances of winning.
- The cards give so much information about the elements, such as the element symbol, Lewis symbol, family or category, atomic mass, description, reaction (special powers of that element, such as Oxygen's ability to rust a metal element on the field and send it to the toxic waste pile if angered) and more.
- The cards can be used in other ways, too. I'm sure some kids would enjoy making up their own games to play with them, and they can also just be enjoyed by looking at them and learning from all of the information on each one.
- This game is so smart and advanced. I can't convey enough how elaborate the cards and levels of play are. It is truly impressive.
- It's fun!
You can get a feel for the element cards with Elementeo's free app on iTunes.
This is such a well-made, well-thought game, and one that can bring a deeper understanding of the elements to any chemistry unit. It's also simply a great game, regardless of educational value, that kids are likely to really enjoy.
Elementeo currently sells for $29.95 at Amazon.com. It comes with a game board, multiple decks of cards (such as elements, compounds and alchemy cards), a game book, die and electron tokens.