The Chemistry Models

The other model set, proposed by chemistry teacher Michael Cheverie, was to develop a set of models of
the distribution of electrons in certain molecules, or molecular orbitals. This is a topic normally taught
in Advanced Placement chemistry, so the PCC students also had to teach themselves enough chemistry
to understand the problem and what was being taught. Students Free Tripp, David Harbottle, Naomi
Galladande, and Brent Cano focused on the chemistry models, again with a lot of interaction with other PCC
fellow students and staff.
Typically this sort of model is made up of some sort of construction toy or whatever happens to be lying
around, and students rely on pictures in a textbook to go from the oversimplified 3D toy models to the more
complex ideas of clouds of electronics. The design requirements here were that the models had to be shaped
like the clouds of electrons; had to be able to be taken apart so that students could learn about how the
molecules went together; and, of course, needed to be manageable by a blind student.
The students came up with shapes that were identifiable and tried out various ways of labeling, finally
deciding that Braille labels on small pieces was counterproductive. Figure 11-5 shows the team at the Cal
State Northridge (CSUN) Conference on Disabled Persons and Technology in March 2015, where they
presented the work (along with their map colleagues). Figure 11-6 shows a Solidworks version of an ethylene
molecule, and Figure 11-7 shows 3D-printed models of ammonia and ethylene molecules.