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Students start with images of living organisms, from bacteria to plants and animals. They "zoom" into cells and tissues to discover that they are made of different macromolecules. Students observe that these macromolecules are polymers. They zoom into polymers to find that some are made from almost identical monomers, while others, such as proteins, are made from a set of different monomers. They discover that all monomers making up biological macromolecules are composed of just a few types of chemical elements: C, H, O, N, P and S.
Students will be able to:
You might explain to your students that they will "zoom" into organs and tissues of plants and animals in order to discover life's essential building blocks. They will do this by looking at images and representations of the biomolecules at different magnifications. The exercise they will do includes just a few of the many possible "zooms" into the structures of living organisms. Students will view 3D models of the biomolecules, and see that many have polarized surfaces. This extends and applies the concepts of electronegativity to more complex molecules.
All key components of every living cell are made of macromolecules. The four kinds of macromolecules are lipids, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, and proteins. Three of the four macromolecules are also polymers, constructed of many organic molecules called monomers that are bonded together.
Additional Related Concepts
Advanced students might undertake the Polymerization activity, in which they investigate both addition polymerization and condensation polymerization, and then compare linear, branched, and cross-linked polymers.
This activity guide from the first activity of the three-activity module Monomers to Polymers, includes several interesting related activities for students.
The Molecular Construction Kit (http://molo.concord.org/database/activities/153.html) follows easily from this activity, and enables students to build linear and branching polymers from monomers.
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