App Review – The elements (by Theodore Gray)

Since this was released in 2010 I have probably cumulatively spent hours DAYS on this app.

I remember pleading for my dad to buy this on his iPad for weeks after seeing it advertised in a magazine. When he finally gave in, I pretty much took over his iPad for a week…

When I finally bought my own iPad to help with studying at uni (the app ‘notability’ was a life changer for me) this app was a MUST on my list of new purchases.

This app is only available on iOS and is best used on an iPad to take advantage of the bigger screen as you will soon see, the images and content on this app are simply stunning. Regardless of its incredible vast array of scientific info about every single element that we currently know about, the presentation of this app alone could win it awards. The home screen sets out the periodic table as your playground. Each element has it’s own feature image that you can freely rotate from the home page, which is really fun to just play around with.

The fun really starts when you zoom in on any element of your choosing and are welcomed with a story-esque approach to explaining each building block of the universe. You get the classic atomic weight, density, melting/boiling points with little gems like audio with proper pronunciation and often multiple images of that element in action. Each image has been photographed to a very high resolution so they look beautiful and can be manually enlarged, rotated and even shown in stereo 3D (you’ll need to experiment with cross-eyed vision or buy some special cheap glasses online).

At the top right of each element page, you’ll find a flame icon that redirects you to another app (if you buy it, which you should) that demonstrates the elements in action. This includes some short experimental videos to show off each element in all it’s glory. Explosions galore!!

In the main menu, you’ll also find a video showing you all the elements in turn to the famous tune by Tom Lehrer. I remember being first shown this song by my secondary school chemistry teacher during a lesson and I think it’s probably the moment when I realised I was a science nerd for enjoying it so much… It’s nice to see it come alive within this app nonetheless. There is also a really modern Japanese take on the song that they’ve included, which is… Interesting…

OPTIONAL EXTRA – molecules

Another extra that has since been introduced on the app store is ‘molecules’, which if downloaded, becomes an extension from the elements within the menu screen. From the home screen you can choose to view the content in book form, where everything is split into chapters with the stunningly interactive images that featured in the elements.

 Or you can choose the ‘gallery of molecules’ option, which is way more dynamic. Here, you are presented with pages after pages of interactive molecules organised alphabetically and by appearance in each chapter of the book. Upon choosing one, you now have the freedom to drag the molecule around the page however you choose. You can even alter the theoretical temperature and speed of the molecule to see how this alters it’s structure in 3D.

There is also a 2D structure that you can’t move about so its much less interesting, but useful if you want a straightforward representation of complicated molecular structures. There is an info tab for each molecule that outlines alternative names, chemical formulae, class and the elements included in the molecule (with links back to the original elements app to get even more info). There is also a link to the relevant chapter if you want to learn more.


Obviously, Theodore was never going to fit every molecule into this app, like he could with the periodic table of elements. Nevertheless, the essence of this app is to act as a person’s first chemistry set that covers the basics of molecules and their interactions.

Its also nice to see a little bio of Theodore himself in the menu of this extra along with Nick Mann (the photographer).


What makes these apps stand out is the brilliance of connectivity between the 3 components and the stunning details put into capturing the elements in all their glory via pictures and videos. The textual components are equally engaging and bring science back to how it all began – curiosity.



General revision: – Great for organising your workload and designing creative resources to keep you on track – Amazing site that outlines the key information for each GCSE and A-level unit for easy revision

S-Cool – I used to use this when I was in school… Same as before, good breakdowns for GCSE and A-level units

BBC Bitesize – A classic revision tool for secondary school subjects that goes over the basics and has fun quizzes and games to keep things interesting!

The Student Room – A place to share your thoughts with other students about homework, university or just general student life!

eRiding – A huge database of random resources for both teachers and students across a range of subjects (can be a bit awkward to navigate through).

Edudemic – Helpful articles on how to get through school both as a teacher and a student! Also focuses on educational links with technology.

Careers resources:

Prospects – Brilliant website full of info and more resources about every career under the sun and all the details you could possibly want about how to get there too.

iCloud – A set of first hand experiences within different careers to get some reviews and ideas on whether it would be for you.

The National Careers Service – Lots of help on how to get started on finding and securing the career that is right for you including university choices.

Science revision:

Flash Bang Science – Quirky company that offer fun experimental methods and quizzes to test secondary science knowledge.

Super awesome experiments to try:

Plastimake – Crazy material that you can mould with your hands into anything and be super strong, but can also return to original material to reform!

Butter experiment – It may sound boring but making butter in a jar may be more fun than you think! Wonder how long it would take to make cheese…

Points of interest:

Good Magazine – Infographics – A subsection of a magazine that deals with statistical representations as infographics. Has some interesting science articles too.

Duncan Shotton – Super cute sticky notes that act as bookmarks that may be useful when reading masses of text books!

TED article – how to give more persuasive presentations – Great article with hints and tips on how to present yourself more effectively.

Guardian science blog – The Guardian do a great series all about science bloggers writing one-off pieces for the master blog of them all! *life goals*

Bad Science – Ben Goldacre is a man of many talents. From being a GP, academic, blogger and most importantly an advocator for abolishing misleading statistical info he writes great pieces relating to stats and medicine and even has a book (which is also fantastic and hilarious)!

Design Thinking – Provides some stunning resources and posters for school life

Teachers specific resources:

Doddle Learn – Cool resources for teachers although can be costly.

Educake – Paperless, online assessment tools to completely revolutionise teaching!

Science Fix – Blog with tonnes of videos on easy science experiments to repeat in class.

Teacher Planner Co – Incredibly beautiful and practical planners just for teachers! You can personalise them too!