Molecular Menagerie

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In this activity, learners use molecular model kits to construct familiar molecules like lactose, caffeine, and Aspirin. This activity helps learners understand how scientists use models to study molecules as well as how advances in 3-D graphics have made the use of computer models much easier. This activity guide includes chemical formulas and 3-D structural diagrams of various natural and artificial molecules. Note: the cost of molecular model kits is included in the estimated cost of materials.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per student

Age Range:
Ages 11 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per student)

  • Molecular model kit(s)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
    • Technology
      • Information and Communication
  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
    • Human Body
      • Medicine
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
      • Elements and Periodic Table
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking
  • Model Building


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

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, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 2002