Friday, February 10, 2017

Greatest Hits -- Molecules!

This post is for all the science teachers out there seeking a practical chemistry lesson.  We're constantly encouraging our students to apply critical thinking to real world problems.  We also want them to exercise public speaking skills.  Around this time of year students get bored no matter how exciting the lesson and it's good to get them actively involved in a dynamic lesson to keep them engaged in learning.

Periodically I will write about a molecule or a related group of molecules.  I always try to include the chemical name and structure of the molecule.  I printed out the text of each of the posts below and gave students about 20 minutes to read and analyze the content.  I asked them to answer the following 3 questions in an oral presentation using the board:

Tell us about your molecule:

What does it do?

How does it work?

Draw its structure!

I had the students complete this exercise in pairs.  It was one of the most engaging lessons of the entire semester.  After each group made their presentation to the class, we spent the remaining 15 minutes covering the Drug Free Campus Policy information for students.  We talked about how some of the molecular stories were about depressants, stimulants, and club drugs.  We talked about how just because a drug is available by prescription, doesn't mean it isn't dangerous.

If you're interested in receiving the text only of the following blog posts (without all the sidebar and URL information) send me an email and I can send you a .pdf.  It's so important to engage students in the fun and exciting (and practical) applications of chemistry to give them some incentive to learn all the basics we are trying to teach them.

Even though my class was populated with college freshmen (who have no Organic Chemistry experience) we were able to recognize common substructures in molecules with a common effect in vivo. The students can identify 5- or 6-membered rings, as well as noting heterocyclic rings and side-chain lengths, without formal training in functional groups.

In the future, a blog post will appear about the class of benzodiazapines including Lorazepam (Ativan) and Alprazolam (Xanax), which share a common substructure.  These molecules have a high potential for abuse.  Stay tuned!

We were able to talk about Kary Mullis in the following class period and how he enjoyed making analogues of LSD until that practice became illegal.  Maybe I can also write about ayahuasca.

1) DMT:

2) Aromas:

3) Antacids:

4) Amphetamine:

5) Adderall:

6) Antioxidants:

7) NSAIDs:

8) Celebrex:

9) Cycloastragenol:

10) Goldenseal:

11) Henna:

12) Isoflavones (Part I):

13) Isoflavones (Part II):


15) Opioids:

16) Retinoate:

17) Serotonin:

18) Sumatriptan:

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