Happy Atoms = Happy Students!

June 4, 2019

Chemistry can be overwhelming for some students trying to understand the properties of materials and how they react to one another. All materials are made of atoms, but some atoms will combine with others, while others will not. What if your students had a hands-on activity that combines with a digital system to learn about atoms and the molecules they make? Our friends at Thames and Kosmos have created a revolutionary approach to teaching chemistry with their Happy Atoms Kits! According to Thames and Kosmos, "This physical and digital system lets students discover the world of molecules in an intuitive, hands-on way."

Upon reaching out to Thames and Kosmos, they immediately offered to send me a Happy Atoms Introduction to Atoms and Molecules Set to share how it works with you. All of the contents were packaged neatly in the box and allowed easy access. This introductory set I received includes 8 Hydrogen atoms, 3 Carbon atoms, 2 Nitrogen atoms, 2 Oxygen atoms, 1 Sodium atom, 1 Chlorine atom, a periodic table poster/white paper scanning mat, a Quickstart guide, and an experiment manual. After quickly downloading the Happy Atoms app, I was ready to start building molecules. Placing the periodic table poster/white paper scanning mat on the white paper scanning mat side, I began experimenting with the atom models.

First, I went with a simple H2O combination. Placing the molecule model on the mat, I then used the camera function of my iPad while using the Happy Atoms app to scan the molecule. According to Thames and Kosmos, "the app has state-of-the-art image recognition technology that recognizes up to 10,000 molecules. Once identified, the app presents information about the molecule including composition, usage, properties, hazards, formula, and structure. The app presents in-depth information about 150 molecules and general information about the rest, plus it tracks progress with the app, collecting sets of molecules that have been built and explored."

Next, thanks to the app, I was able to learn all about the molecule I had built. Two hydrogen atoms with one oxygen atom makes water. The app showed me that it is a single bond with a bent molecular geometry and has a liquid state of matter. On the top right of the screen, I clicked on the photo to see what water looks like in our world.

I was shown three photos of water after clicking on the photo where I learned the importance of water. The photos were crystal clear, and I was intrigued to read more about water.

Based on my own experience with Happy Atoms, I honestly believe students and educators alike will thoroughly enjoy Happy Atoms. The app is a great benefit for the set because not only does it teach, it also stores the molecules that have been scanned allowing you to look back through them.

I also wanted to share with you that Happy Atoms has several lesson plans available on the Thames and Kosmos website. Below is one of the lesson plans titled Atomic Structure Lesson Guide. Be sure to check them all out! And once again, thanks to our friends at Thames and Kosmos!

Stephanie Miller

With over 25 years experience, Stephanie serves as a senior copywriter, social media director, and senior editor for Science Scene. Stephanie is always on the lookout for new educational and STEM-related opportunities and technology.