Thursday, March 27, 2008

Molecular Structure with Young Kids

We started our rock unit yesterday. We started off by reading a short selection in Rocks, Gems, and Minerals by Trudi Strain Trueit, the main text I chose from the library. We read about how rocks, gems, and minerals are used throughout history and throughout the world for many things from construction to weapons to jewelry. We read about the Great Pyramid of King Khufu, Stonehenge, and the Great Wall of China. We learned that fireworks are, in part, made with minerals. We read a brief introduction to atoms, chemical compounds, crystals, and rocks

To demonstrate the difference between an atom and a chemical compound and the difference between a mineral and a rock, we used gumdrops. Yep, candy and toothpicks took front and center in our science lesson yesterday.

A gumdrop represented an element.

A gumdrop connected to another gumdrop of a different color by a toothpick represented a chemical compound.

Several red gumdrops together in a pile represented mineral A.

Several green gumdrops together in a pile represented mineral B.

Then we connected a red to a green with a toothpick. Once A and B are bound together by a chemical bond they cease to exist as A and B. They are now mineral C.

Then we made another pile that included some mineral A's and minerals C's and called that a rock...rocks are mixtures of different minerals.

Then we called A(red) "oxygen" and attached two of them with a toothpick. We breathe this.

Then we called B (green) "hydrogen". We attached two greens and one red with toothpicks. That's water. No matter what, when you put these three gumdrops together in this shape, it always makes water.

Then we made this:

Anyone know which mineral crystal this is? (Hint: Red is still oxygen and green is still hydrogen.)

I got this gumdrop idea from this book. It has quite a few other interesting experiments in it.

My daughter thinks studying rocks is going to be boring. After finding books in the library, looking them over, and choosing just a couple of the many activities and experiments we could do, I know better. This is going to be more fun and interesting that even I had thought it could be.

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3 Comments:

Kysha said...

This brings back memories for me. The fun part is eating the structure. LOL. I'm glad that everyone is enjoying the study.

Melissa @ From Melissa's Desk said...

Oooo Science, my weakness! But you make it look fun!! Can I come learn? :) LOL!

umm... said...

I'm glad the kids are having fun with this =) One question...do they get to eat the elements when they are done? lol