Modeling is attempting to depict visually what is difficult to access otherwise. In regards of the concept of the mole in chemistry class, it is difficult to imagine the magnitude of how massive a mole is. It is essential for a chemistry teacher to come up with some comparisons, images and models of the mole to help capture for the students some way of understanding the mole's magnitude.
Using a number of everyday objects, we can create a model of what one mole of that object would look like. One mole of watermelon seeds would be found in a watermelon approximately the size of the moon. 1 mole of donut holes would cover the whole earth not just once, but it would also be 5 miles deep. 1 mole of pennies would make stacks that reach up to the sky – reaching the moon seven times.
For my models, I altered pictures to create an image consistent with these imaginary situations. Through these images, it will hopefully capture the minds of my students to help picture what is otherwise impossible to see with their own eyes. Zooming out is essential due to the sheer magnitude of the number associated with the mole. Atoms are so very small – that it makes it hard to realize the incredible size of the mole without using some the size of everyday objects and zooming out so you can “see” the number. That is why massive objects like the earth and moon are helpful to compare the size of the mole to when using everyday objects.
Thanks to the following sources for the images:
Earth/Moon: DonkeyHotey (CC by 2.0)
Watermelon: PARSHOTAM LAL TANDON
(CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Donut Holes: jordanmit09 (CC BY 2.0)
Pennies: Sheila Sund (CC BY 2.0)
Technology Facilitator at Calvary Christian Schools. High School Science Teacher since 2008.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.