Building Molecules

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This online interactive has three activities in the NanoLab (press the upper right button): Build, Zoom, and Transform. In Build, learners build increasingly complex molecules out of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen, and is useful for connecting subscripts and the number of atoms, and for introducing 3D molecular structures which are automatically built. Zoom is a "powers of 10" zoom-in ranging from 10,000 kilometers to 1 nanometer. Transform is a simulation of water changing phase from solid to liquid to gas. Through exploration of the site learners form a better understanding of the composition of matter.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
free per student

Age Range:
Ages 4 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Game, Simulation


Materials List (per student)

  • Computer with internet accesses


  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Chemistry of Life
    • States of Matter
      • Solids
      • Liquids
      • Gases
      • Changes of Phase
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
      • Elements and Periodic Table


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • hear
  • use mouse

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2005

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 0117792