Title: Molecular Model Design

Content Area:
Science & Technology

Grade Level:
Middle and High School

Standards:
Next Generation Science Standards

MS-PS1-1. Develop model to describe the atomic composition of simple
molecules and extended structures.

ISTE Standards:
1. Creativity and innovation
• Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and
issues.

Purpose:
Students will learn to use basic tools and features of Autodesk 123D Design and create 3D models of
various simple molecules.

Length of Time:
2 hours

Materials:
• PC or Mac with latest version of Autodesk 123D Design installed. For specific computer system
requirements, please visit: http://www.123dapp.com/design#download
• Free Autodesk 123D accounts to save work in the cloud. Sign up at http://www.123dapp.com
• Example molecule 3D models found here: http://www.123dapp.com/search/molecule/content/all

Fast Facts

Autodesk 123D Design is a free 3D creation
and editing tool that allows users to
manipulate basic building blocks to create a
three dimensional model. This program can
be downloaded at:
http://www.123dapp.com/design

An atom is a basic building block of matter
that makes up everyday objects.

A molecule is a group of two or more atoms
held together by chemical bonds.




Whole Group (10 minutes):

1. Engage students by showing a model of a molecule created in 123D Design. If needed, download
a model from the Autodesk website found here:
http://www.123dapp.com/search/molecule/content/all

2. By adjusting the view with the camera controls, have students identify the appropriate atoms and
verify the molecular structure.

3. Explain to students that they will be creating their own 3D molecule using Autodesk 123D Design.
If students are not familiar with this software, refer to Resource Sheet: 123D Design Training
Exercises to assist in the learning process.

4. Instruct students to open the Autodesk 123D Design software and sign into their free account.

5. Explain that they will be creating four atoms with different numbers of bonds to use for their
molecule models.

Whole Group / Individual (30 minutes):

Creating Atom and Bond 3D Objects

1. Instruct students to change the units to mm (if not already set) by clicking the Units text at the
bottom right.

Atom - 1 Bond

a. Insert a cylinder from Primitives tool and resize with the following dimensions: Radius: 6,
Height: 4

b. Insert a sphere from Primitives tool and resize with the following dimensions: Radius: 15

c. Using the Snap tool, snap the sphere onto the face of the cylinder.

Note to Teacher: Students will need to create Autodesk 123D accounts to save work in
the cloud. Students can sign up at http://www.123dapp.com.

Students will need to learn how to manipulate camera controls and utilize various tools in
123D Design before beginning to create their own virtual 3D molecules. The activity
challenges found in Resource Sheet: 123D Design Training Exercises will help students
understand the basic tools in the program. Pressing the F1 key in the software also
brings up keyboard shortcut keys.

This lesson is intended to supplement the understanding of molecules and atoms after it
has been introduced in a prior lesson. Students will use the software tools to create
models representing the composition of molecules.





d. To move the bond point and atom closer together, double-click the sphere object.

e. Click the Move tool and then click and drag the arrow towards the cylinder to close the
gap.

f. Click the Combine tool and select Merge. Merge both objects by clicking each object
once and then pressing Enter.

g. Save the project with the name Atom - 1 Bond.






Note to Teacher: In order to reuse atoms with a desired number of bonds, students will
begin creating and saving the following objects as individual projects.

a. Atom - 1 Bond
b. Atom - 2 Bond
c. Atom - 3 Bond
d. Atom – 4 Bond
e. Molecular Bond

Teachers can create these project files and copy them to each computer prior to the
lesson so that students can simply insert each atom in their molecule model.





Atom - 2 Bond

a. Using the existing objects from the Atom – 1 Bond project, students will create the Atom –
2 Bond objects.

b. Insert a cylinder from Primitives tool and resize with the following dimensions: Radius: 6,
Height: 4

c. Rotate the original Atom – 1 Bond object so that the new cylinder can be easily snapped
using the Snap tool.

d. To move the bond point and atom closer together, double-click the sphere object.

e. Click the Move tool and then click and drag the arrow towards the cylinder to close the
gap.

f. Click the Combine tool and select Merge. Merge both objects by clicking each object
once and then pressing Enter.

g. Using the Save a Copy command, save the project with the name Atom - 2 Bond.

Atom - 3 Bond & Atom – 4 Bond

a. Repeat the same steps as creating the Atom – 2 Bond object.

b. Ensure that the cylinders are evenly spaced out.

c. Using the Save a Copy command, save the respective projects with the name Atom – 3
Bond and Atom – 4 Bond.





Molecular Bond

a. Create a new project.

b. Insert a cylinder from Primitives tool and resize with the following dimensions: Radius: 6,
Height: 20

c. Save the project with the name Molecular Bond.

Note: Students can change the color of each object by clicking the Material option at the top right after
selecting the object.





Whole Group / Individual (20 minutes):

Creating a simple H2O molecule

1. Starting with a new project, make sure students have the following project models and instruct
them to use Insert from the File menu to place the objects into the workspace:

a. Atom – 1 Bond
b. Atom – 2 Bond
c. Molecular Bond

2. Instruct students to assign a different color for each object.

3. Students will begin creating a water (H2O) molecule.
*Note: The Atom – 2 Bond object will represent a Hydrogen atom, and the Atom – 1 Bond object
will represent an Oxygen atom. The Molecular Bond object will be placed in between each pair of
atoms.

4. Since there are two Hydrogen atoms in a water molecule, students will need to duplicate the
hydrogen object. Instruct students to select the hydrogen object by clicking the object. Students
will copy the object by pressing Ctrl+C, and then pasting by pressing Ctrl+V on the keyboard.

5. Instruct students to drag out the new object by clicking and dragging the arrows that appeared
after pasting.

6. This copy and paste technique will be repeated for the bond object since a water molecule has
two covalent bonds.

7. With all of the necessary objects in the workspace, students will now combine objects by using
the Snap tool.

8. Instruct students to click the Snap tool and then select the two faces on the objects that they
wish to snap together. The process is repeated until they form their 3D water molecule.







Small Group / Individual (30 minutes):

Creating more complex molecules

1. Instruct students to begin creating a glucose molecule. (C6H12O6). If students need more practice
with the 123D Design, provide students with simpler molecules such as carbon dioxide (CO2),
methane (CH4) or formaldehyde (CH2O).

2. The glucose model will require students to insert the following objects:

a. Atom – 1 Bond
b. Atom – 2 Bond
c. Atom – 4 Bond
d. Molecular Bond

3. Instruct students to assign a different color for each object and record which atom is represented
by each color.


Follow Up Questions:

1. What does a molecular model represent?

2. What are other types of molecules that can be created using Hydrogen, Carbon, and Oxygen?

3. Besides molecular models, what other types of 3D objects can be created using Autodesk 123D
Design?




Resource Sheet: 123D Design Training Exercises

Extension Activity:

1. Challenge students to research and create other types of molecules without naming the project
files of that particular molecule name. Have students examine other finished molecule models
and determine the name of the molecule based off the atoms that are included.
Note: Students may wish to use the Text tool to label the atoms.

AUTODESK 123D DESIGN – TRAINING EXERCISES

Objective: Using Autodesk 123D, students will learn camera controls, manipulate 3D objects, and
combine objects with cruising.

Length: 30 – 60 min (depending on proficiency in computer skills)

Activity Preparation:

2. Install Autodesk 123D Design application by downloading the free installation file here:
http://www.123dapp.com/design

3. (Optional) Create a free account using an e-mail address and sign in to save cloud-based project
files.
Additional Autodesk STEAM Resources: http://digitalsteam.autodesk.com/

Training Challenge 1: Learning Camera Controls
1.
Have students create a New Project by clicking the 123D icon and then clicking New.

2. Introduce the zoom feature by instructing students to zoom in by using the mouse wheel to scroll
up and to zoom out by using the mouse wheel to scroll down.
Note: Students can also zoom without the mouse scroll wheel by using the magnifying glass in the
toolbar.

3. Introduce the camera rotation feature by instructing students to hold down the right-click button
and moving the mouse to rotate the view.

4. Introduce the pan feature by instructing students to hold down the middle mouse button while
moving the mouse around the screen.
Note: Students can also press the F key to focus the view on a selected object.

5. Challenge students to adjust the view using these camera controls so that the grid appears to be
a 2-dimensional rectangle. If students obtain an obstructive position, clicking the home icon at
the top right near the view cube will bring the workspace back to the default view.

Training Challenge 2: Manipulating 3D Objects

1. Students will now begin to manipulate various basic shapes.

2. Instruct students to click and drop one 3D object from the Primitives tool into the workspace.

3. After clicking on the 3D object, instruct students to click the Move tool and to click and drag the
different black arrows and grey circles to explore object manipulation.

4. Students can precisely rotate and move objects by entering values into the capsule that appears.



5. After students have become familiar with resizing, moving, and rotating the object, challenge them
to place four other objects with the equivalent height in the same workspace parallel to each
other.





Training Challenge 3: Combining objects and using the Snap tool

1. Using the existing 3D objects, students will begin merging different basic shapes together.

2. Instruct students to click the Snap tool.



3. Have students click the faces of two different objects. The faces of each object should now be
touching.

4. To merge the objects together, students first must click the Combine tool and select Merge.
Merge both objects by clicking each object once and then pressing Enter.



5. Challenge students to create a unique sculpture that consists of their name or favorite phrase. If
desired, students can create a new project. Instruct students to use the text tool to place a text
object in the workspace.


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