How to Make a 3D Molecular Model

Written by genevieve van wyden
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How to Make a 3D Molecular Model
Make simple 3-D molecular models. (aspartame molecule image by Vladislav Gajic from

Science teachers work to make their classes exciting, interesting and as true to life as they can. Still, it's not easy to imagine how something looks when it's too small for you to see. This is why science teachers encourage you to make 3-D molecules using simple items you can find at home or in your classroom. When you make a 3-D molecule using candy and toothpicks, it's much easier to see how these molecules look.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Soft candy, three colours
  • Bowl
  • Toothpicks

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  1. 1

    Tear the bag of candy open and empty it into the bowl. Designate one colour of candy for each atom.

  2. 2

    Choose one piece of candy for the oxygen atom and stick two toothpicks into opposite sides of the candy.

  3. 3

    Pick two pieces of one different colour candy (your hydrogen atom) and stick them on the ends of both toothpicks that you already put into the oxygen atom. The water molecule forms a triangle shape.

  1. 1

    Pick out one piece of candy to represent a carbon atom.

  2. 2

    Stick two toothpicks in, one at each side of the candy.

  3. 3

    Pick out two pieces of one different colour candy (your oxygen atom) and stick them on the ends of both toothpicks. The carbon dioxide molecule forms in a straight line, with the carbon atom in the centre.

Tips and warnings

  • Carry this experiment out with other molecules, like methane or carbon monoxide. Make a methane molecule using one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms.
  • Carbon monoxide, a deadly gas, has one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule.
  • Be careful as you work with toothpicks so you don't jab or injure yourself.

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