Review: Chem Pro: Chemistry in Your Pocket, by iHelpNYC
Chem Pro: Chemistry Tutor in Your Pocket, by iHelpNYC
Free ($4.99 to unlock all features), *** (iPhone version)
- Covers full range of chemistry topics
- Includes flashcards and tolls for use
- No glossary, index, or ability to look up certain topics
- Video tutorials are a little dry
- Flash cards are of limited use
Chem Pro: Chemistry Tutor in Your Pocket (which I will just refer to as “Chem Pro” from now on) is a chemistry tutor app designed to help students taking chemistry courses. The app includes lessons on a variety of subjects, flash cards, and even some tool features that students can use. The question depth of material is here, but the question is if it can really help you or not.
Figure 1. To play a lesson, simply click on the play arrow.
The app is basically broken down into three areas of assistance – lessons, flash cards, and tools. The lessons component of the app consists of 80 lessons about basic chemistry topics, including everything from rates of reactions to bond energy to quantum numbers to electroplating. Each lesson consists of a short video tutorial, ranging from about 10 to 25 minutes depending on the topic. The video tutorial gives you basic information about the topic, and since they are broken down into different subjects, you can view the topics which are of interest or in which you are struggling.
Figure 2. The lesson described the concepts and information in a straightforward, concise fashion.
The flash cards are a straightforward testing mechanism. You can test your knowledge of elemental symbols, ion names, acids, and a few others. The flash cards were somewhat disappointing. First, the first four sets basically repeat themselves (common element signs, common element names, all element signs, and all element names). The flash cards only contain text (again, no pictures, images, anything) and there is no way to mark if you got one correct or not. You can “shuffle” them to make sure you aren’t just memorizing the order in which they appear.
Figure 3. Tap on a flashcard to flip it over and view the answer. There is no way to indicate if you got it correct.
The tools tab gives you common tools like a periodic table, common equations, mass calculator, and a unit converter. Interestingly, there is no tool to look up terms or concepts, and no tool which provides a list of constants. Both of these would be very useful to aid students.
Figure 4. The periodic table provided in the tools section.
While the lessons do provide some solid chemistry assistance, there are some problems. The lessons themselves are very dry (honestly, why can’t they get someone who sounds excited about the topic to give the lesson!). The material covered is in depth, and there are limited animations, demonstrations, or visuals – it is usually as if someone is writing formulas and information (not even pictures) on a chalk board. Certainly the information is presented concisely, but if you are having problems in chemistry, visuals and animations will probably help you.
Another thing that is missing is any sort of quiz and testing ability – you can view the lesson, you can use the (limited) flash cards, but there is no way for you to assess if you actually learned the material covered in the lesson. There is also no way to look up information (like an index) so if you want to review, you need to go back and listen to the entire lesson again.
Figure 5. The unit conversion tool.
There is an iPad version (also free to try) that appears to be identical except for the layout.
All in all, Chem Pro has some functionality that may aid students who are struggling in chemistry. The lessons that are available are pretty comprehensive, but the delivery of the lessons, and the lack of ability to test your knowledge are real drawbacks. Combined with some missing tools and flashcards that are of limited use, this app is primarily for people who may simply want to brush up on some chemistry concepts rather than for students who are really struggling in a chemistry class. If you are interested, you can download it for free to try it out, and then in-app purchase the remaining content for $4.99. This free “demo” is worthwhile, and for that reason I increased my review rating slightly. Three out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating. Please comment on these reviews. All opinions expressed in this review are precisely that – opinions. You may agree or disagree. If you own the app, tell me what your opinion is. If the review prompted you to buy (or not buy) the app, let me know why. If you want more information about the app, go ahead and ask.