[2009-06-09] Cornstarch peanuts for cheap molecular models

Even in the age of ubiquitous 3D graphics, real-world model building remains a critical exercise in learning organic chemistry, at least for most people. In college-level courses, students are generally required to buy a molecular model kit along with their texts. But there are cheap alternatives--gum drops and toothpicks is a popular option. Here's another one, that's basically free if you have the presence of mind to save these biodegradable packing peanuts when you come across them. Joining them is as easy as moistening the two ends you want to stick together (you can use your tongue, but a sponge is probably a better idea), and then, you know, sticking them together. These things can be colored with Sharpie, if you want to mark the heteroatoms, but water or water-based colors will cause them to dissolve. Keep them dry, though, and they'll last for years. The buckyball you see here is at least 4 years old.

last modified 2009-06-09