The Dance of the Molecules:  Visualization and “Real”ization of Molecular Motion

Scott A. Sinex
Prince George’s Community College

Are chemical bonds in molecules rigid like the sticks we use in the model kits? How do the particles in a gas or a solid behave?  How do we get the motion of atoms and molecules across to our students?  This unit explores molecular motion using a number of tools.  To use these online interactive acitivites, Chime needs to be installed in your browser.  Click here to go to the MDL Information Systems site to download Chime.  Excel is also required for data analysis.  PowerPoint 2002 is also required (click here to get a free viewer).  For the standards, technology, objectives, and concepts covered- click here for a pdf file with hot links.

NetLogo Gas Simulation

Module 1 - Discovering Intramolecular Interactions
(discovering the flexibility of molecules)

Post Module 1 Assessment - Helical Structures

Module 2 - An Introduction to Molecular Motion
(animated PowerPoint 2002 introduction to the discovery of terms needed)

Module 3 - Molecules in Motion
(translational, rotational and vibrational motion)

Module 4 - Studying Vibrations in Molecules
(integrating the motion to its measurement)

Module 5 - Molecular Vibrations and IR Spectroscopy
(putting it all together via PowerPoint 2002)

Module 6 - The Dance: A Culminating Assessment

IR spectra of acetone - a plot of IR absorption as a function of wavenumber.  This spectrum is Chime active, right click for a menu.  The peaks correspond to specific vibrations in the acetone molecule.

Source of IR spectrum:

Good websites for vibrational information on molecules using Chime:

Animations for Vibrational Mode of Molecules

Vibrational Modes of Small Molecules

NIST Chemistry Webbook  (wavenumbers and vibration identity)

IR Library (downloadable spectra in dx format for use in Chime)


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