Build-a-Molecule

Contributor
PhET - University of Colorado
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Activity , Simulation
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

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5 Link Broken -- Try this one...

https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/build-a-molecule

Description

The simulation and associated worksheets direct students to build a few simple molecules such as H2O and NH3. The simulation acknowledges only correct combinations, identifies the molecule and provides a space-filling and stick model for each molecule. The simulation allows the user to build long complex molecules with H, C, O, & N such as hydrocarbons. Pre-lab, activity, and post-lab worksheets, which direct student activity are provided in the second URL above.

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Middle School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

MS-PS1-1 Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on developing models of molecules that vary in complexity. Examples of simple molecules could include ammonia and methanol. Examples of extended structures could include sodium chloride or diamonds. Examples of molecular-level models could include drawings, 3D ball and stick structures, or computer representations showing different molecules with different types of atoms.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include valence electrons and bonding energy, discussing the ionic nature of subunits of complex structures, or a complete description of all individual atoms in a complex molecule or extended structure is not required.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Add activities that include extended structures.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Add a discussion of the use and value of models by discussing the following questions. -What do they know about the size of the molecule from the model? (nothing) -What have they learned about a molecule from the model? (the shape of the molecule, the number, type, and location of the atoms) -What did they learn about what holds the molecule together? (nothing) -Why are there more than one model for each molecule? (We can’t see the molecule so we have different ideas about what it looks like>) What use is a model if it doesn’t tell everything we want to know about a molecule? (Usually a model is designed to illustrate only a few characteristics of the real thing. Another model might be developed to tell us something else about the molecule.)

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
In previous grades students have been introduced to the idea that “matter can be subdivided into particles that are too small to see.” This simulation would be a good concluding or formative assessment activity for the next “unit” where the particles for elements are discovered to be atoms. Assuming that they have been introduced to reactions or combinations of two or more elements, the question should arise as to what happens to the atoms. The simulation is designed to help students understand the resultant combination of atoms to form molecules of a new substance.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
In previous grades students have been introduced to the idea that “matter can be subdivided into particles that are too small to see.” This simulation would be a good concluding or formative assessment activity for the next “unit” where the particles for elements are discovered to be atoms. Assuming that they have been introduced to reactions or combinations of two or more elements, the question should arise as to what happens to the atoms. The simulation is designed to help students understand the resultant combination of atoms to form molecules of a new substance.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The simulation does a good job of helping student understand simple molecular models and formula but does not meet the expectation that extended structures be included.

  • Instructional Supports: Limited directions and questions are included for the pre-lab, activity, and post-lab portions of the lesson.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The post-lab questions provide a limited process to check on student understanding

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The simulation is straightforward and easy to use.