About Bret Norwood

Bret Norwood is a staff blogger for Learning Laboratory in addition to other roles, including UI design and content development for Study Putty, our free memorization tool for chemistry and many other course topics. He is also a published writer of literary fiction--see BretNorwood.com

15+ Free Games to Memorize the Periodic Table of Elements

Master the Mother of All Charts

Content requests? Or are you interested in developing custom learning tools for your classroom? Contact us!

Where the cool kids go to scrape by on tests.

Periodic table stock in this graphic by Wikipedia user DePeip. CC3.0 Attribution/Share-alike.

Visit our project StudyPutty.com to use our awesome memorization tools. It’s free and it’s a change of pace from quizzing yourself on that crumpled-up cheat sheet for the twenty billionth time, for the love of Gallium. Click the logo below to go there now! Continue reading

Hydrocarbons, or Don’t Count Your Carbons Before they Catonate

See Carbon Catenate. Catenate, Carbon, Catenate.

Following our cheat sheets for common polyatomic ions, acids, and bases, here is one for organic chem: a study sheet for hydrocarbons, in particular the first 10 straight-chained alkanes.

Alkanes, the Simplest of Hydrocarbons

In addition to the image or PDF below, you can study the same material in our memorization web app, Study Putty, for absolutely free. Study Putty is in public beta. Try it out here. 

Study the table below, or download as PDF. Then continue reading for a tip. Continue reading

Study Amino Acid pKa, pl, names, and formulae at Study Putty

New Physical Chemistry Topics Added to Our Free App

Screen shot 2013-12-13 at 1.16.30 PMThis week, we have new live content available on Study Putty: amino acids. Before you go callin’ your prof “a-mean-o” for making you memorize this stuff, know we’ve got your back.

When a p chem student told us she wasn’t finding exactly what she needed on Quizlet, we decided to come swinging in to save the day. Alright, all we did was upload a spreadsheet into our software. But anyway, we can certainly help you, as we helped her, to review the following topics:

Amino Acid R Groups (Match proteins to their side chains) Continue reading

Dumber Nunchers, or Genetic Decline among Number Munchers Clones

140424-number-munchers-dos-screenshot-title-screens

Gums like your grandpa...I supposed he lost his teeth on too much hard math.

Where the action happens: at the intersection of DINOSAURS AND SPORTS. POW!

Number Munchers: Vanished About the Same Time as Dinosaurs; Yes, I Know I’m Getting Old.

“Munchers” was a series of educational games produced by MECC through the 80’s and 90’s. I passed through the digestive tract of elementary education just in time to catch classics like Number Munchers, and MECC’s more famous non-Muncher title, Oregon Trail, whenever my class took a privileged jaunt down the hall to the hi-tech and new-fangled Apple IIe computer lab.

Like anything that shaped a generation, Number Munchers is subject to copycats, whether motivated by nostalgia or by the desire to occupy the original product’s commercial niche. MECC–or the Learning Company, which acquired it–vanished from the face of the Earth in 1999, and who knows whose intellectual property that little green…uh…whatever-he-is…is. So a search for “Number Munchers” on the Internet, the App Store, or Google Play will return several…tributes, I guess we can call them if we want to be kind? If being kind bores you and you’d rather be honest, what we find is a handful of slightly-off trademark knock-offs, all of them as weak compared to the real thing as a Go-Bot was to a Transformer…I’m dating myself again aren’t I? Continue reading

Algodoo Does Phun Physics Stuff, Educationally

Algodoo: the Algoryx Physics Engine for Education

Think of Algodoo as a virtual playground. Algodoo brings the sophisticated Algoryx physics engine to anyone’s computer or tablet, to learn or to play–and the boundary between the two is pretty blurry no matter how you use it. Watch the magic unfold in this demo vid from Algodoo.

Continue reading

Study Putty: Chemistry Activities for Home and Classroom

“Memorization” is a foul word in education. Students hate doing it. Teachers hate that their students spend so much time trying to cram data into their noggins when the point is really the concept, not the vocab. But this doesn’t change the fact that mastering ‘vocabulary’ — whether it be definitions, abbreviations, symbols, or formulas — is a crucial hurdle students must get over.

“Critical thought, evaluation, and synthesis all sit on the backbone of vocabulary.”
Rachel Watson,
Professional Academic Lecturer, Dept. of Molecular Biology at the University of Wyoming, non-fan of rote memorization, and creator of her own open courseware

studputscreen

Matching names and formulae of common polyatomic ions.

Easing the student’s memorization burden is the idea behind Study Putty, our set of online learning activities currently under development and available for students to use.

Study Putty provides several straightforward ways to memorize information. It’s not a game or a sim, it’s just a variety of memorization activities for fundamental facts prerequisite to mastering important concepts. We are starting with the subject of chemistry and looking to grow into other fields. Our chemistry activities are designed to get the dirty job of memorization done so the student can move on with labs, with class, with life. All of our activities are free to use. Continue reading