I recently found out about a new FREE app that I think all middle school teachers and chemistry teachers would love- the Elements 4D app by Daqri. In addition to the free app, the site also provides free lesson plans for teachers of elementary students, middle school students, and high school students. It is an augmented reality app in which students discover the properties of various elements (available via interactive blocks that are printed and assembled into cubes by the teacher prior to the activity - also free to download from their site.) CLICK HERE to be taken directly to the site.
The video clip below shows 2 of the 6 blocks that are provided (36 different elements in all). By utilizing the app, the elements are brought to life. Students are able to see what the element looks like in its natural form - it's state of matter is shown inside the block as the element "comes to life." Students can also click on the element name to discover more factual information about the element. If two elements are able to combine to form a compound, the compound that is created will also "come to life" when the two element blocks are touching. Students see the chemical equation that is produced when the two elements combine to form a compound. If they do not form a compound, nothing will happen.