Detailed Description of the KembloX(TM) System

Transcript for KembloX Description

*For the hearing impaired or just if you prefer to read along, we have provided a transcript of the video below as an alternative to close-captioning*

I would like to introduce KembloX, meant to model the chemistry of ionic compounds, by visual and tactile means, hence the motto make the hands see™

The contact information for this presentation is displayed at the bottom of the screen

KembloX™ is a system designed to enhance the experience of learning the chemistry of ionic compounds.

The system has two intrinsic, inseparable, components:

  • a chart
  • a set of blocks

and an optional component:

  • a four-sided spinning top

We are going to examine the components in turn.

First, THE CHART. The chart is a combination of the expanded periodic table and a list of most common polyatomic ions.

We notice the color code associated with numbers one, two, three and four. For most elements in the chart there is a stripe denoting the preferred ion of that particular element. We notice that, for some elements, there is a second stripe denoting the next most preferred ion. The list of the polyatomic ions gives both the chemical formula and the charge of the various ions.

The chart can be used in two ways. Either we are looking for an ion with a certain charge, and then we look for the respective color in the chart, or we’d like to know the preferred charge of a certain ion, and we look at its position in the chart, in the periodic table or in the list of polyatomic ions.

Another notable feature in the chart is that, for those elements whose preferred ion is an anion, that means a negative ion, there is a shaded area in the chart. All the rest of the chart has ions with preferred positive charges, a.k.a. cations. For the polyatomic ions, the charge is listed with the formula.

The other side of the chart contains the contact information and also a brief user’s manual describing the applicability and use of Kemblox™.

The blocks are the second essential part of the KembloX system. They are three-dimensional structures and were ergonomically designed to allow easy assembly and disassembly.

The blocks represent the ions participating in the formula unit of the ionic compounds. They exhibit either posts or wells. The posts represent the extra electrons characteristic for negative ions, anions, while the wells represent the lack of electrons specific for positive ions – cations.

The color code of the blocks is the same as that of the chart, and each block has a number of posts or wells equal to the number represented by the color, namely one, two, three, or four. When in use, the posts fill the wells, i.e. the blocks are complementary.

A special feature of the block set is the engraving on the side opposite to the posts or to the wells. The blocks are engraved not only with the sign of the charge, but also with the number of charges associated with the block. This enables telling the anion from the cation in an assembled model of a formula unit, because the wells hide the posts when the KembloX system is used for modeling.

This particular feature also enables students with low visual ability to build models by using the tactile feature of KembloX.

The full KembloX system includes a non-essential, but valuable, component: a four-sided spinning top. As seen, the four sides are coded with the same color code as the chart and the blocks.

Spinning the top enables the user to randomly select an ion, anion or cation, with a specific charge. Once the two ions participating in the formula unit of the compound were selected, one can build the model for a large number of ionic compounds. The specific ions involved can be identified by consulting the chart.

The top introduces the factor of randomness and surprise in building the model, and gives the student a sense of fairness, because she or he participated in selecting the ions, and of ownership over the model built.

The KembloX system has several educational merits:

The first one, opening the visual and tactile paths to learning, is very important and both paths have been tested in numerous frameworks, including classes in which the KembloX system has been used. As mentioned KembloX could also become an important tool in teaching chemistry to visually disadvantaged students.

A second merit is creating a non-threatening environment for students, which is very important. KembloX achieves that by using familiar objects, such as building blocks and pencil boxes. This feature is important at all ages, from the young to the more mature learners who might be apprehensive about learning.

The above feature ties into turning the activity of learning from a demanding endeavor, or “work”, into a relaxing activity, or “play”.

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