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Let's Make Molecules

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Let's Make Molecules

In this activity, learners use gumdrops and toothpicks to model the composition and molecular structure of three greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor (H2O) and methane (CH4). Learners explore how greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere as well as how these gases contribute to global climate change. This activity guide includes an extension activity in which learners move their bodies to model the arrangement of atoms in a methane molecule.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Gumdrops (red, green, black/purple)
  • Toothpicks
  • Small bowls


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Atmosphere
  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Human Impact
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
      • Elements and Periodic Table

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, Sciencenter, ©2010

Funding Source:

  • Institute of Museum and Library Services


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