How to Make a Model of a Methane Molecule

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Things You'll Need

  • 5 foam balls, 1-inch wide

  • Acrylic paint

  • Paintbrush

  • Toothpicks

You can make molecules using craft supplies.

If you are teaching students about basic molecular science, you can make the lessons more understandable by presenting the kids with a visual representation of the molecules you are giving the lesson on. For example, you can make a simple methane molecule using a few basic materials that you can find at an arts and crafts store. This will enable you to hold up an actual example of the molecule as you talk about it.


Step 1

Place five foam balls onto a sheet of newspaper. This will keep the table or counter top from accidental paint spills.

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Step 2

Paint four of the foam balls using blue acrylic paint. These will be hydrogen atoms of the methane molecule. Allow the paint to dry for 20 minutes.


Step 3

Paint the remaining foam ball with red acrylic paint. This will be the carbon atom of the methane molecule. Allow the paint to dry for 20 minutes.

Step 4

Insert four toothpicks into the carbon atom, placing them in the four cardinal directions.


Step 5

Push a hydrogen atom onto the end of each toothpick. This will complete the methane molecule, which has one carbon and four hydrogen atoms, or CH4.


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