How to Build a Model of the Molecular Structure of Graphite

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Graphite is the "lead" inside pencils. It is made of carbon atoms, just like diamonds are. The reason for the difference between graphite and diamond lies in their molecular structure--how the carbon atoms are joined together. The atoms in graphite are arranged in layers that come apart easily, making it ideal for use in pencils or as a dry lubricant. Here is a simple model you can make showing the molecular structure of graphite.

Things You'll Need

  • Small candies (such as Jujubes(TM), jelly beans or marshmallows)
  • Box of round toothpicks
  • Build some hexagons using six candies and six toothpicks for each one.

  • Attach the hexagons into a sheet of hexagons using extra toothpicks.

  • Break some toothpicks in half.

  • Push half toothpicks into the candies, then put candies on top of them.

  • Put toothpicks between these top candies to form a second layer of hexagons.

  • Add a third layer, or as many more layers as you want to. (In reality, graphite is made of thousands or millions of these layers.) When your model is as large as you want it, just stop building.

Tips & Warnings

  • Round toothpicks are stronger than flat ones.
  • Jujubes(TM) are the best candies to use because of their firm texture.

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