National Historic Chemical Landmark
Lesson Plan: Discovery of Fullerenes
Subject Area: Chemistry
The following inquiry-based student activities are designed for use in high school chemistry lesson planning. The video and handout will help students understand the chemistry of fullerenes and to appreciate the events that led to their discovery.
The activities are designed as a ready-to-go lesson, easily implemented by a chemistry teacher or his/her substitute, to supplement a unit of study. In chemistry, the activities relate to measurement, diatomic molecules and allotropes, nanoparticles, the relationship of molecular structure to properties of substances, and scientific discovery through collaboration and serendipity.
: Includes the handout, reference materials, student activities and answer guide
: “Discovery of Fullerenes”
- Video: “Nanotechnology’s Big Impact” (link to ACS podcast from ChemMatters and Bytesize Science)
: Table of Prefixes
- : Includes the five activities described below.
Student Activity Descriptions:
While these activities are thematically linked, each is designed to stand alone as an accompaniment for the video and handout on baking powder. Please pick and choose based on curricular needs and time considerations.
- Measurement Activity: The Power of Prefixes! Students develop familiarity with commonly used measurement prefixes and relate their meanings to word equivalents, decimal equivalents and powers of ten. Students explore the relationships of prefix magnitudes and relate their uses to familiar objects. (25-30 min.)
- Sequencing Activity: The Discovery of Fullerenes Students use the handout to analyze a sequence of events that show how architectural inspiration, scientific collaboration and serendipitous observation all played a role in the discovery of fullerenes. (20-30 min.)
- Elements that Come Together: What Are Molecular Elements? Students learn the diatomic elements and practice writing their formulas. Students explore the concepts of allotropes. (15-20 min.)
- An Element of Many Forms: Allotropes of Carbon Students compare properties of different allotropes of carbon (graphite, diamond and fullerenes) and relate the differences in their properties to their molecular structures. (15-20 min.)
- Building Buckyballs: Model Construction Activity Students construct a cardstock model of C60 and use it to observe and answer questions about its structure. (This activity is suitable for individual or group work.) (30-40 min.)
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