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Activity

Molecule modelling free play

Summary: 
Students are given molecule model parts. They can build suggested real molecules and find out the function of what they have built, or can make up their own.
Science content (2016 curriculum): 
Chemistry: States of Matter, Properties of Materials (K-7)
Chemistry: Atoms, Molecules (3-7)
Materials: 
  • molecule model pieces. I limit to black carbons, red oxygens and white hydrogens, maybe with some blue nitrogens, along with grey bonds. All made by Molymod
  • sheet of molecule functions (see attachment) or separate molecule cards with drawings, or the internet
Procedure: 

Allow students to play with the molecule models.
They can build molecules from images and learn about the function of the molecules they build.
They can make up their own. I encourage them to fill all the holes on the molecules, so that their molecule is more likely to be stable. Sometimes students will make something that can be looked up and described, but often they will build larger structures that don't exist. These models have a similar appeal to lego.

A superb book discussing the function and uses of simple molecules, building into complex: Molecules by P.W. Atkins, published by Scientific American Library

Grades taught: 
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Gr 5
Gr 6
Gr 7
Teacher: 
Alane Lublow
Becky Evermon
Daphne Gurney
Hannah Langille
Lia Cuccurullo
Nellie Wong
Nina Hooker
Taz Ismail
Teaching site: 
Eton Arrowsmith Camp
ingridscience afterschool
Tyee Elementary
Activity originally developed and delivered: 

isas, then first tested at Tyee