Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Whose Game for Chemistry? Science Ninjas Valence

Every since I read this post by the amazing Sara Vanderwerf, I have been kicking around the idea of a game table. Honestly, when I first read it, I thought that math teachers are so lucky that there are so many cool math games you could put at a play table. Then I read this post from A Mighty Girl blog. There is a game mentioned called Compounded that caught by eye. So I searched for it on amazon; the search lead to a lot of chemistry games. It turns out that chemistry teachers are also lucky that there are cool games for a play table. One I recently bought is called Science Ninjas Valence.

Science Ninjas Valence is a card game that plays quickly. Each player gets six cards from the shuffled deck. The rest of the deck goes face down and the top card is turned up. Players look at the element cards in their hands and try to make compounds - acids, bases, salts, water, carbon dioxide, etc. When you can make one, you discard your cards and pick up the compound card that you made. Each compound has a point value. The first player to ten points wins.

What I like about Valence:

  • The game plays fast. My eighth grade son and I played 4 games in 30 minutes on the day I got it.
  • It's good practice in adding up ionic charges to get a neutral compound.
  • There is chemistry involved, but if you don't know any chemistry, you can still successfully play (and will probably learn some chemistry). For example, If you don't know that a base is often composed of a metal, an oxygen, and a hydrogen, the base card is color-coded to emphasize that. After you play a while, knowing no chemistry, you will start to remember that an acid has a hydrogen and what a metal oxide is.
  • There is also some strategy involved. When you have to draw a card because you can't make a compound, you can choose from the deck or the discards, so the order that things are discarded is important.

The Science Ninjas who created Valence have also made a sequel game called Valence Plus. This one looks more complicated. And awesome. I'm putting it on my wish list!

This semester I am going to start putting out some chemistry games. Valence is going to be the first one. Stay tuned for how it goes!

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