Chemistry Magnets - Making Chemistry Visible

Chemistry magnets

This past July, I had the opportunity to present ” at ChemEd 2019. Additionally, through the creativeness of some fellow attendees, particularly Katy Dornbos, Ariel Serkin, and Kristin Gregory, I gained some additional materials that have enhanced the presentation.

In my presentation, I mentioned using 2-inch colored magnets purchased from to represent everything from subatomic particles to atoms for balancing equations, to showing molecular geometry and even representing the atoms of organic molecules by placing the colored circles on top of a superimposed structure of an organic molecule (figure 1).  

Figure 1: Overlay of colored magnets on top of an organic structure.

The magnets that I purchased are available in several colors, blue, red, green, yellow, and white. In order to get carbon and hydrogen, I had to print out 2-inch circles, laminate them, cut them out and tape them to some of the magnets. However, after arriving home from ChemEd, I received a Twitter notification with an alternate way of creating my magnets. A link was provided with beautiful  (PDF files can be found in the supporting information with a complete list of other colored images that can also be printed) showing labeled carbon atoms, sodium and chloride ions, to name a few. There are also water molecules (figure 2).  A big thank you goes to Katy Dornbos for putting the time into designing these. Katy also introduced me to printable magnetic sheets that can be fed into any inkjet printer allowing these images to be printed easily.

Figure 2: Examples images of the water molecules that can be printed on printable magnet sheets. (K.Dornbos)

I purchased five sheets of printable magnet paper for a reasonable price after a quick search. Using Katy’s images, I printed 9 water molecules, 15 Carbon atoms, 15 Oxygen atoms, 15 Hydrogen atoms, multiple bars representing single, double, and triple bonds, and multiple sodium and chlorine atoms and ions. 

With the addition of these new images, I plan to ask my students why tap water bends toward a balloon after it has been rubbed on a students head. This idea comes with a common misconception and I hope to fix that by showing them what happens on the particulate level with my water molecules. Next, with the water molecules, my students and I will discuss why ice is less dense than water and then show the arrangement of the water molecules representing ice, water, and steam.

I have many other uses for the magnets and will continue to update followers about how I use my chemistry magnets. I would also love to hear from you regarding how you are using these magnets to enhance your lessons.  Please share what has worked or what may not have worked. I would love to hear what your students think of using them. You can follow me on twitter @dragan39 and I will be using the hashtag #chemmagnets to post pictures, ideas, etc.


Log into your ChemEd X account to download the supporting information and comment on Doug's post.

NGSS

Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds.

Summary:

Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. Use a model to predict the relationships between systems or between components of a system.

Assessment Boundary:
Clarification:

Matter and its Interactions help students formulate an answer to the question, “How can one explain the structure, properties, and interactions of matter?” The PS1 Disciplinary Core Idea from the NRC Framework is broken down into three subideas: the structure and properties of matter, chemical reactions, and nuclear processes. Students are expected to develop understanding of the substructure of atoms and to provide more mechanistic explanations of the properties of substances. Chemical reactions, including rates of reactions and energy changes, can be understood by students at this level in terms of the collisions of molecules and the rearrangements of atoms. Students are able to use the periodic table as a tool to explain and predict the properties of elements. Using this expanded knowledge of chemical reactions, students are able to explain important biological and geophysical phenomena. Phenomena involving nuclei are also important to understand, as they explain the formation and abundance of the elements, radioactivity, the release of energy from the sun and other stars, and the generation of nuclear power. Students are also able to apply an understanding of the process of optimization in engineering design to chemical reaction systems. The crosscutting concepts of patterns, energy and matter, and stability and change are called out as organizing concepts for these disciplinary core ideas. In the PS1 performance expectations, students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in developing and using models, planning and conducting investigations, using mathematical thinking, and constructing explanations and designing solutions; and to use these practices to demonstrate understanding of the core ideas.

*More information about this category of NGSS can be found at 

Summary:

"Matter and its Interactions help students formulate an answer to the question, “How can one explain the structure, properties, and interactions of matter?” The PS1 Disciplinary Core Idea from the NRC Framework is broken down into three subideas: the structure and properties of matter, chemical reactions, and nuclear processes. Students are expected to develop understanding of the substructure of atoms and to provide more mechanistic explanations of the properties of substances. Chemical reactions, including rates of reactions and energy changes, can be understood by students at this level in terms of the collisions of molecules and the rearrangements of atoms. Students are able to use the periodic table as a tool to explain and predict the properties of elements. Using this expanded knowledge of chemical reactions, students are able to explain important biological and geophysical phenomena. Phenomena involving nuclei are also important to understand, as they explain the formation and abundance of the elements, radioactivity, the release of energy from the sun and other stars, and the generation of nuclear power. Students are also able to apply an understanding of the process of optimization in engineering design to chemical reaction systems. The crosscutting concepts of patterns, energy and matter, and stability and change are called out as organizing concepts for these disciplinary core ideas. In the PS1 performance expectations, students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in developing and using models, planning and conducting investigations, using mathematical thinking, and constructing explanations and designing solutions; and to use these practices to demonstrate understanding of the core ideas."

Assessment Boundary:
Clarification:

Students that demonstrate understanding can develop models to illustrate the changes in the composition of the nucleus of the atom and the energy released during the processes of fission, fusion, and radioactive decay.

*More information about all DCI for HS-PS1 can be found at  and further resources at .

Summary:

Students that demonstrate understanding can develop models to illustrate the changes in the composition of the nucleus of the atom and the energy released during the processes of fission, fusion, and radioactive decay.

Assessment Boundary:

Assessment does not include quantitative calculation of energy released. Assessment is limited to alpha, beta, and gamma radioactive decays.

Clarification:

Emphasis is on simple qualitative models, such as pictures or diagrams, and on the scale of energy released in nuclear processes relative to other kinds of transformations.