Thursday, January 26, 2017

Different views of molecular structure

Here's a post my students wrote last evening as our lab was just finishing up.

Playing with zometools is similar to playing with legos. Having a hands-on experiment, it has helped us to relate when building these types of models, there is no set rule or process. Today professor Hammer presented our group with the opportunity to build a model with couple of rules in mind: NO LINES, to cover the whole table and to have no flat lines. Our group took a general approach on planning our build. We decided to separate our tasks into different “sectors” to promote efficiency and stability of our model. While this may seem like a non-productive activity compared to the normal labs we have, we still have to work together as a group and figure out a way to put all the pieces together and make sure the entire product does not break apart when we lift it up.


After we completed the structure we attempted to raise our final product. With haste, Professor Hammer came to the rescue and took some quick pictures and videos demonstrating the structure’s strength before it fell apart. Although a couple bonds broke apart, our structure was still very well put together. This was because we made sure to connect as many parts together as we possibly could. In relating this to the biological world, there are always imperfections but there are also ways and solutions to fix those imperfections. We also realized that our complex structure kind of resembled a termite tunnel system. Each bond represents a pathway just like the pathways of a termite tunnel.


To relate this lab work to our lecture today we thought about the covalent bonds formed between hydrogen and oxygen atoms in a water     molecule and the hydrogen bonds formed between the negative and positive ends of several water molecules. This lab has reinforced the concept that not all molecules have an exact shape and size. The structure we created was similar to hydrogen bonds because our model has different lengths and variations and could not remain stable under a lot of movement. This could be implied to the different states of water: gas, liquid and solids.

In conclusion, this lab has provided us with the opportunity to understand the properties of water in a different perspective and how molecules do not have a specific size and shape. We put them in different shapes so that it would be easier for us to learn them.

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