Mastering Chemistry Through Pokemon

Mastering Chemistry Through Pokemon

Sometimes playing videogames can help you ace the midterm.

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wow that was pretty awesome, not gonna lie.

(I don't need to take organic chem, but i took it up until the one right below it) this is actually quite true despite how funny it is. I've done the same in a few other classes with certain games, not to this extent, but easily comparable.

Good article and definitely made my monday morning class alot better!

Organic compound, I CHOOSE YOU!
Attack with Ionic bonding!

Chemistry always made sense to me to, but that more because I had an awesome chem teacher rather than my acumen with pokemon.

Great read. It makes perfect sense. There are quite a few things in life that match this same idea. As they say, the macroscopic world emulates the microscopic world.

Neat. I don't think my simple mind can handle to complexity of chemistry... though I never thought of Pokemon that way...

I was studying Organic chemistry for an exam I have on Wednesday, took a break, and found this.

Mind = blown.

Time to go understand shit with pokémon >:O

That's pretty rad. I've always wondered if the amount of video games I play has "wired" my brain differently and made me more adept/inept at certain scholastic endeavors.

(Though seriously, you gave Gyrados Fire Blast to counter the GRASS types that destroyed him? He's water/flying! He's neutral to grass damage!)

As a medicinal chemist with a strong grounding in organic chemistry I am still struggling to understand this article.

Just having chemistry near the title had me interested, but having read it I feel a little bit betrayed. I thought someone had created some sort of pokemon themed study guide for students that I could critique, but as far as I can tell its just saying "it helps to know the right things".

Which is only partially true.

What helps in organic chemistry isn't knowing mechanisms, its understanding them. It's all well and good to memorise the synthesis of (2,4-dinitrophenyl)hydrazine from 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene and hydrazine sulfate, but the moment the question is suddenly rephrased and different starting materials are used suddenly the thing you spent ages memorising is suddenly useless. UNLESS you also took the time to understand the mechanism and where all the curly arrows come from and go to and why they are there.

I do a little bit of teaching in organic chemistry and the thing that trips up people the most is trying to memorise the mechanisms without understanding the concepts behind them. It certainly tripped me up when I did my first year organic chemistry course.

That approach might work in biology or other subjects where recounting information is more important, but in chemistry it doesn't quite fly.

Then again... I'm quite biased in this sort of area and I actually wanted to succeed in chemistry. If your goal is to only pass the course, then by all means memorise enough information to pass. If you want to do a little bit better, take the time to understand it.

This article makes me think my I either had a really bad chemistry teacher, or that I didn't do enough PvP in pokemon when I was younger.

I've found the same thing happening with my accounting courses and strategy games. who knew that Starcraft and Fire Emblem were preparing me for life as an accountant.

Custard_Angel:
As a medicinal chemist with a strong grounding in organic chemistry I am still struggling to understand this article.

Just having chemistry near the title had me interested, but having read it I feel a little bit betrayed. I thought someone had created some sort of pokemon themed study guide for students that I could critique, but as far as I can tell its just saying "it helps to know the right things".

I'm with you. This article uses the advantage-disadvantage system of Pokemon types as an extremely weak metaphor for chemical bonds. I'm not sure where the author is in his education, but I'm sure he will find this approach to be woefully inadequate for working with any higher level organic reaction. Sodium hydride is effective in the reaction he presents because it is a STRONG nucleophile, not because it has some specific strength against alcohols.

As a molecular biologist (effectively chemistry with larger molecules like nucleic acids and proteins), I know that you will need to step up your game to succeed in the field.

I'm of two minds of this article: I don't plan on going on further than the required med school courses for organic chemistry, so thinking about things in this way might help me, but for the most part, the hardest questions in the class that I'm in involve mechanisms, so I'm not so sure that this will help me all that much, as a couple of people have already mentioned. I'm willing to try just about anything to get through this class, but unless this helps me really understand mechanisms (and I enjoy understanding the underlying and governing rules in different fields, which is why I love physics), it's not going to be that great of a help.

Like Custard Angel said, I was expecting a Pokemon themed study guide, which is the kind of thing that I would absolutely love.

I'm becoming a chemical engineer and the headline made me curious but there is actually nothing much said. Organic Chemistry is like hell (as a former "chemical plant operator") so an easier way to understand the mechanics in aromaticity would've been nice. Still a nice read.

Ok, speaking as a chemistry grad student, this makes little to no sense. Ochem is pretty straightforward, nobody but a premed would argue that, but the metaphor is still quite arbitrary. I get the gist of it, like having SN2 be the "strength" of hydroxide and E2 its "weakness", but you could probably come up with a better metaphor than Pokemon. Aside from forcing every reagent into a trinary strong/neutral/weak scenario, this won't work for more complex reactions. Plus this will not help you at all when you get to pchem. Think ochem is tough? Oh boy, you're in for a treat with quantum mechanics!

All that said, I do admire your geekery. Keep it up!

thats pretty awesome. I tried to adapt video game skills to real life, so far only nothings has worked really well... well except practicing with wii bowling at home improved my game by about 50 points.

also, if you're crazy enough you can become a poke'mon master by entering the genetic engineering field... then again genetic engineering is just an extension of chemistry.

Rock > Scissors
Scissors>Paper
Paper>Rock

But in pokemon, Scissors (Steel) > Rock?

Interesting read - however judging by your age at this (18) you are likely in your first or second year depending on education system and well - expect organic chemistry to start using it's super effective moves on you...with a flinch effect

thethingthatlurks:
Think ochem is tough? Oh boy, you're in for a treat with quantum mechanics!

I personally found pchem to much easier than ochem. I think its a left-brain, right-brain thing, I'm a very math oriented thinker, and was never terribly good at biology. Pchem was easy for me because we were just putting labels on calculus processes i was already familiar with (more or less ;))

Custard_Angel:
As a medicinal chemist with a strong grounding in organic chemistry I am still struggling to understand this article.

Just having chemistry near the title had me interested, but having read it I feel a little bit betrayed. I thought someone had created some sort of pokemon themed study guide for students that I could critique, but as far as I can tell its just saying "it helps to know the right things".

Which is only partially true.

What helps in organic chemistry isn't knowing mechanisms, its understanding them. It's all well and good to memorise the synthesis of (2,4-dinitrophenyl)hydrazine from 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene and hydrazine sulfate, but the moment the question is suddenly rephrased and different starting materials are used suddenly the thing you spent ages memorising is suddenly useless. UNLESS you also took the time to understand the mechanism and where all the curly arrows come from and go to and why they are there.

I do a little bit of teaching in organic chemistry and the thing that trips up people the most is trying to memorise the mechanisms without understanding the concepts behind them. It certainly tripped me up when I did my first year organic chemistry course.

That approach might work in biology or other subjects where recounting information is more important, but in chemistry it doesn't quite fly.

Then again... I'm quite biased in this sort of area and I actually wanted to succeed in chemistry. If your goal is to only pass the course, then by all means memorise enough information to pass. If you want to do a little bit better, take the time to understand it.

Bingo. Memorizing the "super effective" pathway from one class of compound to another is one thing, being able to come up with a chain of 3-6 steps that gets from one complicated molecule to another is quite a different problem. Classifying your reactions the way the author seems to do so will not help you learn how electrons behave, which is really the key to understanding organic chemistry reactions.

Organic chemistry was always horrendous, because you just had to memorise so much random shit. It saddens me that I could have made it that much easier for myself...

walrusaurus:

thethingthatlurks:
Think ochem is tough? Oh boy, you're in for a treat with quantum mechanics!

I personally found pchem to much easier than ochem. I think its a left-brain, right-brain thing, I'm a very math oriented thinker, and was never terribly good at biology. Pchem was easy for me because we were just putting labels on calculus processes i was already familiar with (more or less ;))

I have to agree, and I'm actually studying theoretical chemistry (think pchem applied to theoretical problems) in grad school, and my pchem2 and two subsequent courses I took inspired me to do so. It's a really fun subject, and only difficult if you absolutely have to have a clear mental picture associated with a particular concept. The rest is just math, and calculus really isn't anything to be feared. Real computations on the other hand...well, different story.
However at my undergrad uni, the pass rate for pchem was not much better than it was for ochem, which is doubly troubling considering the really stupid bunch already got chopped during the first two years. Apparently we used to have bumper stickers saying "Honk if you passed pchem" back in the day...

Could we cut the kid some slack? All he is saying is that having played a game with a fairly simple mechanic helped him understand the absolute basic concepts of orgo, by associating the rules of the game with the rules of chem which isn't a bad way to remember stuff.

Although I do agree that; West, you seem to have a natural affinity for chemistry(you lucky bastard) so this does come across as a little naive but it is nice to see an example of gaming helping people learn.

I'm not a fan of Orgo and I kinda wish someone had pointed this association out to me before someone even saying the words "organic" and "chemistry" in the same sentence made me run and hide under the covers.

Sorry double post. computer is PMS-ing

While I'm not quite sure how much chemistry I learned from Pokemon, the game made me more interested in school and learning and stuff. I wasn't very good at it until Pokemon came around. Of course, eventually I got to the point were school was too easy, but I digress...

CrazyGirl17:
Neat. I don't think my simple mind can handle to complexity of chemistry... though I never thought of Pokemon that way...

Proof that the wrapping can entice us to learn even the most complex of things.

Being the Pokemon geek i am...i really should of took chemistry...

Although having said that i am terrible at Science and would probably accidentally create a chemical that opens up a portal to a Paradox world where i am awesome at science, where i created a portal to a Paradox world...

Anyway...time to kick arse on Pokemon Black ^^

Custard_Angel:
As a medicinal chemist with a strong grounding in organic chemistry I am still struggling to understand this article.

Just having chemistry near the title had me interested, but having read it I feel a little bit betrayed. I thought someone had created some sort of pokemon themed study guide for students that I could critique, but as far as I can tell its just saying "it helps to know the right things".

Which is only partially true.

What helps in organic chemistry isn't knowing mechanisms, its understanding them. It's all well and good to memorise the synthesis of (2,4-dinitrophenyl)hydrazine from 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene and hydrazine sulfate, but the moment the question is suddenly rephrased and different starting materials are used suddenly the thing you spent ages memorising is suddenly useless. UNLESS you also took the time to understand the mechanism and where all the curly arrows come from and go to and why they are there.

I do a little bit of teaching in organic chemistry and the thing that trips up people the most is trying to memorise the mechanisms without understanding the concepts behind them. It certainly tripped me up when I did my first year organic chemistry course.

That approach might work in biology or other subjects where recounting information is more important, but in chemistry it doesn't quite fly.

Then again... I'm quite biased in this sort of area and I actually wanted to succeed in chemistry. If your goal is to only pass the course, then by all means memorise enough information to pass. If you want to do a little bit better, take the time to understand it.

I think you might be reading into his method the wrong way. As someone who is currently taking organic chemistry and for whatever reason kind of inherently understands most things presented to him, I feel like this makes sense. He isn't saying to memorize what beats what, but to understand what needs to be done to get to the desired goal. It isn't a guide, but kind of a loose relation. I thought it made decent enough sense.

The author may be right on the really basic level. But if you were going to equate organic chemistry to an RPG it would be the most obtuse and complex RPG of all time.

Yes every step has the most effective reagent to achieve product in the ideal situation. The real task is to break down the target molecule into "synthons" so that they can be built together using the "Super Effective" chemical reactions.

Linking it back to Pokemon or any other RPG dosen't make it any more intuitive. Intuitive understanding of behaviour in chemical reactions requires the understanding of nucleophiles and electrophiles, molecular conformatation (Molecules can bend.), chirality (Molecules can be mirror images of each orther.)

In Pokemon as far as I can tell the most you'd need to remember is that "water beats fire". In organic chemistry you need to remember pH, pressure, temperature, solvent, timing and glassware technique.

Im doing access to science and have, so far, racked up something in the region of 1000 hours on all my Pokemon games combined... I shall be trying this method.

Thank you for all the comments.

I will admit that this article simplifies a very complex science but, at the first-year level, such a mnemonic device can give you reasonable success. Now being an upper-year student (taking Organic Chem IV, Stat Mech, Quantum, Spectroscopy etc) and having performed research for three summers, I will agree that there is considerably more to organic chemistry than the simple example (Of course, for a public interest piece, how in depth with reactivity/mechanisms can one go?). However, even this advanced knowledge is not something altogether new: it is simply an extension of the logic that I used here (ie it is a confluence of different factors that determines the synthons to be utilized, or the stereochemistry of your annulation etc etc) to many more levels than a CHEM 1XX student needs.

Outstanding read, bravo.

Baneat:

But in pokemon, Scissors (Steel) > Rock?

What are excavating machines made of? Steel.
At least that's how I've always seen it. Doesn't explain Ground > Steel or Fighting > Steel though.

Anyway, it's cool seeing people try to use video games to relate to their classes. I use similar techniques to make up for my lack of study habits, and it keeps me in the A-B range.

I love this guy

This was an awesome article. I myself am a sophomore Chemistry major that just completed my first semester of Organic Chemistry. I breezed through it despite the warnings of my those who had taken it earlier, and the third of my class that didn't make it. I've never made the connection between Pokemon and Chemistry but I suppose it holds true. I was always pretty good at pokemon (though at my elementary school most people didn't have a gameboy).

Me and some friends would actually act out our own pokemon. We'd try to come up with odd match-ups where we'd challenge the others to find a way to win. (the one that sticks in my head is trying to beat a Blastoise with a Squirtle)I was always really good at finding ways to beat even the most unevenly matched up foes. (the Squirtle blocks the Blastoise's cannon's with a few well placed rocks, then uses it's small size and relative quickness to wear out the Blastoise before finishing it off)

Thanks for the wonderful article. I'm going to continue on and become a pokemon master myself too.

As someone who has mastered both pokemon and (organic) chemistry I just want to caution that this article is clearly just written to be entertaining. Maybe in some daydream he had, he was envisioning his knowledge of pokemon making him better at chemistry... a very loose connection.

Dear first years... or grade 12s approaching university. If you spend your time in university playing pokemon, you can expect a nice big fat D on your transcript.

Mastering pokemon however does take: strategic thinking, strong research skills (bulbapedia), excellent data management, patience.... (if you ever delved into the world of breeding (the only way you'll ever reach rank 7 in battle tower), IVs, hidden powers, natures, etc will give you a headache). If only they made the gameplay in pokemon more fluid and less tedious....

Of course the japanese are resistant to making improvements in their games and are stuck in the 90s in many respects.

 

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