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Race to Catch a Buckyball

Classroom Activity

To construct a paper model of the 60-carbon-atom buckyball.

Materials for each team
  • copy of "Building a Buckyball" student handout (PDF or HTML)
  • removable transparent tape
  • scissors
  1. Challenge your students to construct their own models of Carbon 60 molecules, using this activity.

  2. Organize students into teams and give each team a copy of the "Building a Buckyball" student handout.

  3. Have students trace the number of designs needed, cut out the designs, and tape together in the method outlined.

  4. When students have finished building a basic Buckyball, review some of the findings in the program that suggest that there may be other types of fullerenes based on hexagons and pentagons, such as Carbon 70 or other configurations. Challenge your students to build other fullerenes such as larger Buckyballs or Bucky tubes. How do these models help support the idea that other fullerenes might exist?

Activity Answer

The procedure of this activity is fairly straightforward. To save time, students may want to work in teams to build parts of the Buckyball. As they work, remind them that this model is a useful visual aid for scientists to understand the structure of a particular molecule. If they follow the directions accurately, students should find that the shape will emerge naturally. If they try to build other fullerenes, they will find that certain configurations occur easily, while others are difficult or impossible to build.

Teacher's Guide
Race to Catch a Buckyball

Video is not required for this activity