3D printed Boggle game with binary compounds

In this article I explain a Chemistry Boggle game I have created for naming binary compounds as well as share the printing 3D files for those who wish to print their own.  

Naming binary compounds is such an important fundamental skill to know to be successful in chemistry. I have tried various methods in engaging my students in mastering the skill, from having a naming race where students name as many as fast as they can, to using charged ion pieces to show the bonding ratios. Recently, I purchased a budget 3D printer for home use (since I don’t have one in my classroom) and got started tinkering and designing various objects. Upon stumbling on an old Boggle game, I decided to make some dice with elements on them and create a compound naming game in the form of the original Boggle.

The Chemistry Boggle game is similar, but not exactly identical, to the original Boggle game. The game has 12 dice, and contains dice that are not only 6-sided but with some that are 12-sided. The different dice consist of elements in their ionic form, and also elements with their full names. The objective of the game is to create as many compounds, either their formulae or the compounds’ name, as you can within a time limit. Unlike the original Boggle game, the compounds do not have to be formed with the dice that are beside or touching each other. You are basically forming as many compounds as possible with all the available ions or elements in the 12 wells. The time limit can be set according to the level of the students. I have used one minute to five minutes, and have found three minutes to be a happy number to maintain a level of competition. Once the round is complete, the students compare answers with each other and tally their scores.

To encourage a collaborative effort between the students, I have the students verify each others’ answers. If a student says “iron oxide”, another student should question, “is it iron(II) or iron(III)?” and double check the spelling of their compound names. After each round, the students tally their scores, and they can play 3-4 rounds to determine the winner of the game. A tournament style can be used with winners from each group competing in the finals.

 Chemistry Boogle showing 6-sided and 12-sided game dice.

Final 3D printed game ready to play.

Before running the game, I review naming so that every student is on the same page of the naming rules. When I introduce the game to my students, I find that the competitive aspect along with the novelty of seeing and using a unique 3D object provides students a sense of excitement. I have also noticed that the students who may have challenges completing the traditional “paper and pencil” repetitive worksheet are often more engaged because of the competitive nature and the social accountability with their peers. 

I have students play in small groups to encourage the use of 21st century essential skills such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking, character, citizenship, and creativity. I have noticed that some of the students develop their own unique strategies after just couple games. It is always neat to see students interact, and communicate their understanding with each other.

Rules and gameplay for students

  1. Everyone has three minutes to form as many compounds as possible. 
  2. If the element on the dice is in written form, e.g. calcium, you must write the chemical formula, CaBr2.
  3. If the element on the dice is in symbolic form, e.g. Ca, you must write the written chemical name. e.g. calcium bromide.
  4. Elements do not have to be beside each other to form bonds.

Small group of students using their periodic table to play Chemistry Boggle.

Small group of students using their periodic table to play Chemistry Boggle.Engaged students in small groups playing Chemistry Boggle using their periodic tables.

Scoring for students

  1. After each round, each player goes around and shares their compounds formed. Any common compounds (other player has the same one) do not get scored.
  2. Any unique compound will get scored as 1 point.
  3. Other players should check and verify each compound. 


The benefits of a 3D printer is that it allows you to print whatever you can create. I used Tinkercad to make the tray, box, and dice. I have also used www.thingiverse.com to explore other ideas and samples for other 3D objects. A possible extension would be to have the students create their own dice with elements of their choosing. The skills of 3D designing, measuring and printing an object provide and capture a lot of skills that are beyond the curriculum. 


This year I started a blog called “Mr Yeung Wonderments” http://blog.sciyeung.com/This website keeps track of the happenings in my classroom and the journey of raising my kids. I have a variety of hands-on classroom science activities, such as images of some amazing student-created layered digestive system models. While I have posted some science activities, I have also showcased some of the creative and fun projects I have created to engage younger children, from the Foam board pinball game to Augmented Reality Projects in the Classroom.  

Technical Information for Boggle game

STL files: All the printing file can be found on my blog.  http://blog.sciyeung.com/2019/02/09/chemistry-boggle/

Tinkercad website: http://www.tinkercad.com
Ultimaker Cura software 3.6 for slicing: https://ultimaker.com/software/ultimaker-cura
Thingiverse website: http://www.thingiverse.com for additional chemistry ion dice
Creality Ender 3 3D Printer 
Filament used: 1.75 mm PLA
Bed Temperature: 60°C