1887

Styrofoam-and-Velcro: An Alternative to Ball-and-Stick Models

    Authors: Sawyer R. Masonjones1, Heather D. Masonjones2,*, Megan C. Malone3, Ann H. Williams2, Margaret M. Beemer4, Rebecca J. Waggett2
    VIEW AFFILIATIONS HIDE AFFILIATIONS
    Affiliations: 1: Biology Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32601; 2: Biology Department, University of Tampa, Tampa, FL 33606; 3: Riverview High School, Riverview, FL 33569; 4: Sky Ridge Medical Center, Lone Tree, CO 80124
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 15 December 2014
    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: University of Tampa, Box U, 401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33606. Phone: 813-257-3801. Fax: 813-258-7496. E-mail: hmasonjones@ut.edu.
    • ©2014 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2014 vol. 15 no. 2 295-296. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i2.651
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    Abstract:

    For students learning biology at introductory levels, one of the most significant instructional barriers is their lack of preparation in chemistry. In upper-division college chemistry and biology courses, students employ ball-and-stick models in order to visualize molecular structures, but at the introductory biology level, models are inconsistently used and at the secondary level they are avoided altogether. Traditional ball-and-stick models perform poorly at all levels because they only show bonds, never valence electrons. This poses a problem for students who are visual or kinesthetic learners, as modeling electrons in the bonding process may be critical to understanding the mechanisms behind the biochemical reactions that serve as a foundation for biological concepts. Our molecular modeling kits show the action of valence electrons and correctly deal with the issue of polarity and partial charge, while still illustrating structure and function similarly to ball-and-stick models, allowing students to model nearly every reaction or molecule they may need to learn. Additionally, this kit will foster model building exercises required as part of the Next Generation Science Standards (http://www.nextgenscience.org/next-generation-science-standards). This model was devloped in conjunction with 'Molecular Twister: A Game for Exploring Solution Chemistry' (JMBE Vol 15, No 1; http://jmbe.asm.org/index.php/jmbe/article/view/652) by the same authors, which uses principles derived from the present paper.

Key Concept Ranking

Amino Acids
0.42998672
Hydrogen
0.36111107
Carbon
0.3472222
Chlorine
0.3472222
0.42998672

References & Citations

1. Nagle B 2013 Preparing high school students for the interdisciplinary nature of modern biology CBE Life Sci Educ 12 144 147 23737621 3671640
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v15i2.651
2014-12-15
2017-04-30

Abstract:

For students learning biology at introductory levels, one of the most significant instructional barriers is their lack of preparation in chemistry. In upper-division college chemistry and biology courses, students employ ball-and-stick models in order to visualize molecular structures, but at the introductory biology level, models are inconsistently used and at the secondary level they are avoided altogether. Traditional ball-and-stick models perform poorly at all levels because they only show bonds, never valence electrons. This poses a problem for students who are visual or kinesthetic learners, as modeling electrons in the bonding process may be critical to understanding the mechanisms behind the biochemical reactions that serve as a foundation for biological concepts. Our molecular modeling kits show the action of valence electrons and correctly deal with the issue of polarity and partial charge, while still illustrating structure and function similarly to ball-and-stick models, allowing students to model nearly every reaction or molecule they may need to learn. Additionally, this kit will foster model building exercises required as part of the Next Generation Science Standards (http://www.nextgenscience.org/next-generation-science-standards). This model was devloped in conjunction with 'Molecular Twister: A Game for Exploring Solution Chemistry' (JMBE Vol 15, No 1; http://jmbe.asm.org/index.php/jmbe/article/view/652) by the same authors, which uses principles derived from the present paper.

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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1.

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FIGURE 1.

Panel A illustrates Na and Cl, Na and Cl, and the ionic bond between them. Panel B represents 2 H atoms and 1 O atom, and then HO.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2014 vol. 15 no. 2 295-296. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i2.651
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