Electron User

Which Salt?

Author: Rog Frost
Publisher: Micro Power
Machine: Acorn Electron

Published in Electron User 2.10

Which Salt? is designed to be used to help students revising for O level or CSE exams in Chemistry. It provides practice in that well-known bane of chemists known as qualitative analysis.

After loading - a long process, but with no hitches - you are shown a picture of a reagent bottle containing a salt, together with some information on colour and solubility in water.

You are given 100 points to start with as you begin a series of tests. First comes the flame test, which, like all the rest is shown graphically, but with a sentence of explanation of well - vital for those with monochrome monitors.

Which Salt?

Then you are shown the effect of heat on your salt, with further tests offered if any gas is evolved. Ten points are lost if any of these tests are needed.

Next you find the effect of adding alkali and ammonia. The final set of tests are for anions (the non-metal part of your salt). Again points are lost for using these. It is now assumed that you will know your salt and you check your result by picking one of the nine cations and one of the seven anions used in the program. Entering these is done by pressing Space at the correct time, so there is no chance of poor spelling being a stumbling block.

When you have selected the salt correctly, a summary sheet gives details of the chemistry of the tests used. You also get a score and a message such as "Seek help", "Boffin" and "Einstein". A quibble on these messages is that scoring 100 per cent earns you "Cheat".

Which Salt?

My other two criticisms are that the prompt "Press Space to continue" is forgotten at times, and more seriously that it is not possible to repeat a test, which can reduce you to wild guessing.

That apart, this is an excellent program. The graphics are tidy and fast, good use is made of the computer's colour and, thankfully, the program is silent.

It is packaged with details of the chemical knowledge required for the program and also a single copy of a worksheet which may be photocopied. At £6.95 this is a very cheap educational program and definitely worth getting for home revision.

Rog Frost

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