This term, Year 11 separate chemistry students have been exploring the fascinating, but sometimes challenging world of organic chemistry. In just five weeks, they have progressed from recognising basic organic molecules, to naming, drawing and building molecules such as 1,2-dibromoethane, butanedioic acid and ethyl ethanoate. The unit culminated in students producing their own ester molecules by reacting ethanol with ethanoic acid to produce an ester molecule.
Individual organic molecules are far too small to see, even with a microscope but it’s essential that students can visualise them in order to understand how they interact. This provides an excellent opportunity to use the molymods to model these organic molecules. Modelling ideas is a vital aspect of science, both for deepening understanding but also for communicating complex or abstract ideas clearly. However, it’s also important to understand that models have their limits. The picture shows ethanol molecules (CH3CH2OH), but oxygen atoms are not really red, the bonds between the atoms are not really visible and ethanol molecules do not really look like a small dog! Explaining the limitations of these models is an excellent way for students to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the subject.