Chemical Mahjong - American Chemical Society

Chemical Mahjong - American Chemical TJ Cossairt - ‎2011 - ‎C...

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Chemical Mahjong Travis J. Cossairt and W. Tandy Grubbs* Department of Chemistry, Stetson University, DeLand, Florida 32723, United States ABSTRACT: An open-access, Web-based mnemonic game is described whereby introductory chemistry knowledge is tested using mahjong solitaire game play. Several tile sets and board layouts are included that are themed upon different chemical topics. Introductory tile sets can be selected that prompt the player to match element names to symbols and metric prefixes to powers of 10. More advanced tile sets are available that require the player to assign oxidation numbers and electronic configurations, predict precipitation, and recognize weak and strong acids and bases. Chemical Mahjong is intended for introductory chemistry students. Adobe Flash Player 10.1þ must be installed to run this application. KEYWORDS: First-Year Undergraduate/General, High School/ Introductory Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Humor/Puzzles/ Games, Internet/Web-Based Learning, Mnemonics/Rote Learning, Acids/Bases, Nomenclature/Units/Symbols, Oxidation State, Student-Centered Learning


he original mahjong game is of East Asian origin and involves four players who draw and discard tiles (or cards) portraying Chinese characters and images in an attempt to complete accepted tile sets. The rules for playing mahjong have varied considerably over time and geographic locale. Similar to poker, winning the game involves both strategy and chance. Mahjong solitaire is a relatively modern rendition of the game that grew in popularity during the 20th century, particularly as a computer game starting in the 1980s. Activision produced a version of the game in 1986 for Apple platforms called Shanghai, and Microsoft included their own version of the game for personal computers called Taipei as part of the Windows 3.x Entertainment Pack in 1990. Mahjong solitaire involves removing tiles from a board by identifying matching pairs. The game can be transformed into a powerful and addictive mnemonic activity by requiring the player to identify tile pairs that relate a similar concept. In the game developed here, Chemical Mahjong, the player can choose from several tile sets that test introductory chemistry knowledge. Available tile sets include the following: 1. Matching element names with elemental symbols (Figure 1). 2. Matching atoms in molecules or ions with the appropriate oxidation number (Figure 2). 3. Matching atoms and ions with the correct ground-state valence-shell electronic configuration. 4. Identifying chemical species as strong or weak, acids or bases. 5. Matching metric prefixes with the correct power of 10. Copyright r 2011 American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc.

Figure 1. Elemental Symbols; Intro tile set, using a custom X-Board layout. Tiles are removed by matching elemental names with the correct symbol.

6. Selecting pairs of compounds that form a precipitate in aqueous solution. 7. Matching aqueous solutes with the correct predicted Van’t Hoff factor. 8. Matching chemical species that are isoelectronic. Each tile set can be played using one of six available board layouts. Chemical Mahjong is free to use and can be accessed on the Web.1 Adobe Flash Player 10.1þ must be installed to run this application. Published: April 01, 2011 841 | J. Chem. Educ. 2011, 88, 841–842

Journal of Chemical Education


Figure 2. Oxidation tile set, using the classic Turtle board layout. Tiles are eliminated by matching a compound or ion tile with the correct oxidation number tile, where the oxidation number refers to the atom or ion depicted in red.

’ AUTHOR INFORMATION Corresponding Author

*E-mail: [email protected]

’ ACKNOWLEDGMENT Special thanks to Travis Cossairt for programming this application, the contributors of the Freesound Project from which audio effects have been selected, and to the AT&T Foundation for making this project financially possible. ’ REFERENCES (1) Mahjong Chemistry Home Page. (accessed Mar 2011).

842 |J. Chem. Educ. 2011, 88, 841–842