Making Molecules out of Toothpicks


“Like objects of our everyday life, molecules have well-defined shapes. Chemists describe the shapes of molecules by comparing them with everyday objects: one molecule looks like a chair, another like a cube, another like a soccer ball, and another like a ring. You should try to think of molecules as tiny objects that can be touched and set on a table so that their geometry can be admired from different directions. Chemists themselves build plastic models of all types to help them think about the molecule, and how it may react with something else to form something new. Of course, real molecules are so small that billions and billions are needed to make even a speck visible to the naked eye. It takes roughly a million million million million of these water molecules to form one drop, much like many bricks are needed to build a house.

In this exercise, we will learn how to build molecules from marshmallows and toothpicks, thus creating our own chemical model.”

“Making Molecules out of Toothpicks”
San Diego Computer Center