Chemistry Now, week 3: molecule structure, properties

A close-up of spearmintA close-up of caraway seedsAs part of the weekly, online, video series “Chemistry Now,” NSTA and NBC Learn have teamed up with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create lessons related to common, physical objects in our world and the changes they undergo every day. The series also looks at the lives and work of scientists on the frontiers of 21st century chemistry.

This week, we’re looking at isomers, specifically carvone, and how a subtle change in molecular structure can have a profound effect on how the molecule functions; in the case of carvone, how it smells and tastes. The NBC Learn collection (linked below) also includes an NBC News profile of Oliver Sacks, author of “Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood.” So we present week three’s offering, molecule structure, properties. View the video, try the lessons, and let us know what you think.


Video: “Mirror Molecule: Carvone” uses carvone, a chiral molecule, to explain how the “handedness” of a molecule can change its properties — in this case giving us the differing flavors of spearmint, caraway and dill. The video is located at the bottom right of the collection of resources.

Middle school lesson: the aim of this lesson is to give students an understanding that the three-dimensional structure of a molecule or “shape”  plays a role in reactivity and chemical properties and therefore is relevant to science and technology industries.

High school lesson: in this lesson, students will learn about enantiomers and chirality and their influences on chemical reactivity.

You can use the following form to e-mail us edited versions of the lesson plans:

[contact-form 2 “ChemNow]

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1 Response to Chemistry Now, week 3: molecule structure, properties

  1. Direct link to week 3 collection (Mirror Molecule: Carvone) is http://www.nbclearn.com/chemistrynow/week3

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