Identifying Organic Functional Groups Activity

molecular models

In a previous post I talked about an equation balancing lab that I have been doing with my students involving building molecular models. This time I would like to focus on another lab that I have developed for my model kits. I am a big fan of kids making mistakes. I know this might sound weird but I think there is a great amount to be learned from our mistakes. Model building has allowed us to let kids fail with very little danger of explosion (note I did not say “any danger of explosion” because my kids are quite inventive) and the chance to fix it. Also modeling the particulate level is gaining lots of momentum in chemical education and this is a good chance to do some modeling.

The activity I want to talk about is a functional groups activity for organic molecules. It is really quite simple but a very good activity I use near the end of the chapter on organic.

 

Concepts: 

functional groups and organic naming

Time required: 

15 minutes prep and 30 minutes for students to observe the molecules.

Materials: 

Enough organic molecule sets to create 15 organic compounds of your choice.The molecular model kits I use are from Carolina: Advanced Level Chemistry Set Article Ref: MMS-002 - 64. 

Background: 

In a previous post I talked about an equation balancing lab that I have been doing with my students involving building molecular models. This time I would like to focus on another lab that I have developed for my model kits. I am a big fan of kids making mistakes. I know this might sound weird but I think there is a great amount to be learned from our mistakes. Model building has allowed us to let kids fail with very little danger of explosion (note I did not say “any danger of explosion” because my kids are quite inventive) and the chance to fix it. Also modeling the particulate level is gaining lots of momentum in chemical education and this is a good chance to do some modeling.

The activity I want to talk about is a functional groups activity for organic molecules. It is really quite simple but a very good activity I use near the end of the chapter on organic. This is a pretty easy activity to set up also fairly simple to grade. It is surprisingly effective! I have included a student handout that you will find at the bottom of the post.

Procedure: 

I build 15 different molecules, really quite simple ones, and I tie a card with a number to each of them. I then have the kids walk around the room and spend two minutes with each molecule. They are allowed to pick it up and examine it. They need to two things with the molecule. They must identify the organic functional group and name the compound.

The students have to apply what they have been doing for several weeks in a pretty practical setting. It is not just naming compounds on a piece of paper they get to examine the molecule itself. Some of the restrictions I put out include not being able to talk to anyone outside of your lab partner, you must turn your paper in at the end of looking at molecule 15, and only one group can be looking at the molecule at a time. They can’t bring any notes with them and the groups that are not working on the activity must be seated and working quietly on another assignment I provide for them.  

Preparation: 

Feel free to substitute, but the molecules that I have been using the last couple of years are:

1)Ethane

2)Propyl chloride

3)Ethanal

4)methanol

5)methyl amine

6)ethanoic acid

7)butane

8)ethene

9)methanoic acid

10)propyne

11)propaanone

12)di methyl ether

13)ethyne

14)methyl ethanoate

15)ethaneamide

 

Attribution: 

I have developed this myself.