I can safely say that organic chemistry was not my favorite subject when I was in school. Even though I like to think of myself as having a scientific mind, I struggled with abstract atoms and trying to memorize their names and structures.
One of my regrets now, when I look back, is that I did not fully utilize home learning to the best of my ability. There are just so many tools that we now use at home with my family that would have helped me significantly. One of these tools is the organic chemistry model kit. It brings atoms, structures and organic compounds to life.
It is much harder to misunderstand a concept when it literally stares you in the face! If you are thinking of purchasing an organic chemistry model kit and want to understand how they work, you’ve come to the right place.
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How do you use the organic chemistry model kit?
Organic home models kits are made so that students and teachers have a way to recreate molecular structures in real life and in three dimensions, for study, learning and teaching purposes. These kits are made from durable plastic, have different colors to represent different atoms and chemical bonds.
These plastic parts can then be joined together in various ways to represent a multitude of molecular structures. The correct number of bonds should be determined by the corresponding two-dimensional lewis structure of the molecule.
The kits are a fantastic way to aid the learning process with hands-on experience and share a universal code. That way you know which atoms are which, oxygen, for example, always being red.
Organic chemistry model kits explained
Organic chemistry model kits have been around for what seems like forever. They are a very useful tool when it comes to supplementing school learning with home learning. Molecular chemistry is a difficult topic to grasp without hands-on practical experience, and these kits provide just that.
The sets come with a number of different parts, each of which represents different atoms and bonds in molecular chemistry. The color code that is used for each atom is universal and transferable around the world. This means that you can build an organic model and everyone will be able to read it.
These pieces are designed to be attached to one another in a variety of ways to accurately represent in three dimensions of molecular structures. Let’s go into detail about the two main groups of parts in an organic chemistry kit, the atoms, and the bonds.
The colorful balls are what are used to represent different atoms. Again, these colors are universally used so they will never change. We elaborated a comprehensive list of the main colors used and what they represent:
- Red – The atoms colored red represent Oxygen (O).
- Black – The atoms that are colored black represent Carbon (C) and are the most common atoms in the majority of sets.
- Green – This represents Chlorine.
- Light purple – This represents Phosphorus (P). Not to be confused with the next one, Iodine.
- Dark purple – Iodine (L).
- Light blue – This represents Nitrogen (N).
- Yellow – This represents Sulphur (S).
- Dark blue – Bromine (Br).
- Orange – Fluorine (F).
On their own, these atoms don’t serve as a structure. For that, they need to be connected in various ways and arrangements, using what we call bonds. You can clearly see them in the sets as grey plastic sticks that show single, double or triple bonds, depending on the structure.
Using these parts in combination opens up a wealth of possibilities in home and school chemistry learning.
What else comes inside a model kit?
In addition to a selection of colorful atoms and bond structures, you will also find some extra items in each kit. Items such as remover tools for taking apart the structures are not uncommon, and you can also get display stands and storage boxes so that you don’t lose any pieces. The most important extra component, however, is the instruction manual.
They more often than not come with easy to read instructions and pictures to follow, so that even a beginner can start to build. These manuals will give a clear guide of what each color atom represents as well as information on the bonds. The kits have, all in all, everything you need to get started.
Why is molecular modeling important?
Organic home models kits are made so that students and teachers have a way to recreate molecular structures in real life and in three dimensions, for study, learning and teaching purposes. They are very useful for help in the visualization of arrangements of atoms in a molecule.
It is a vital cog in helping scientists understand diseases such as cancer, AIDS and arthritis and design new drugs to combat them. It also aids in the making of new futuristic materials such as nanotubes. If you have a child or student who shows interest in the subject, why not help extend and develop on that interest? That’s how scientists start!
Are organic chemistry model kits accurate?
They are an accurate representation of the structure of molecules, yes, but it is safe to say that atoms in the body are not all the colors in the rainbow. Some artistic liberty has to be taken with this because it helps with learning and teaching. In addition, the scale of the model is many times larger than the molecules and structures it represents.
Are organic chemistry model kits just for adults?
Absolutely not! These models are an excellent learning tool for all ages. If your child is very young, it would be wise to give continuous supervision when building it as the pieces can be a choking hazard. The very nature of the model is to give a colorful and visual representation of molecules, and this is also what children respond to well when learning.
It would be a shame for a young child to not gain an advantage in chemistry by missing on building one of these kits. It is crucial, however, to observe the age recommendations that come with each and every kit.