This isn’t a new resource. Drew Minock and Brad Waid (Congrats again, Brad, on getting on this year’s 20 to Watch List!) have mentioned the Elements 4D Cubes several times on their website as well as on their weekly show, Two Guys and Some iPads. I thought the cubes looked pretty cool, but didn’t really see a use for them in my classroom at the time. Also, I missed out on the Kickstarter campaign for the wooden cubes, and figured I would be out of luck unless Daqri started selling them.
The wooden Elements 4D Cubes are still not available to the general public. (I tweeted them last night, and they responded that they are planning to make them available for sale in the near future.) And I still don’t really have a use for them in my current curriculum. But I sense a Genius Hour project may be planned in the immediate future – because my daughter and I have been having a blast with the free paper version of the cubes for the last two days.
My daughter came home from school the other day and mentioned that they had begun studying the elements in her science class, and that she had to do a report on Chlorine. She chuckled at the coincidence (she is a synchronized swimmer who spends a lot of time washing chlorine out of her hair), but didn’t sound too excited about the project. We were busy that evening, but I had a fleeting memory that someone had mentioned something about the paper version of the Elements 4D Cubes, and I decided, before school the next morning, to give them a try. At 6:45 A.M., I cut out 2 cubes, glued them together, and downloaded the free app. My daughter, who had just woken up, got a demonstration at the breakfast table. My performance was not well-received – probably largely due to the fact that she is not a morning person.
After school, she came home and started playing with the cubes and the app. The next thing I knew, she was busy cutting out the rest of the cubes. As I sat in our home office trying to think of a post to write, I could hear her Facetiming her friend so she could show her the app. When that call was done, she gathered all of the cubes to bring to the office to show me all of the elements she was discovering, and the fascinating combinations that could be made. Suddenly, Chlorine is an incredibly interesting element. My daughter had no idea that it is a gas in its natural state (as the cube clearly shows), or that it combined with Sodium to make salt. Every new discovery she made with the cubes was exciting. We took a lot of iPad screen shots. I encourage you to try it out for yourself. Download the free iPad app, print off the free cubes (I highly recommend printing them on card stock if possible), and spend a bit of time cutting and pasting so you can give yourself hours of fun.