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Activity Number
Overview and Learning Objectives
Classroom Practice
Central Concepts
Extensions and Connections
Activity Credits

Nanomachines (a 5-page activity)

Interactive, scaffolded model

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Overview and Learning Objectives

Many biological systems can be thought of as tiny -- but very accurate -- molecular machines that use chemical energy to do certain jobs. Although we tend to borrow concepts from the mechanical systems we are familiar with, molecular machines differ significantly from macroscopic machines in that they are always in a chaotic environment governed by the laws of thermodynamics. This reality makes it very difficult for us to devise molecular machines that work predictably and reliably.

Students will be able to:

  • interact with nanomachines;
  • compare nanomachines to macroscopic machines;
  • determine what the nanomachines have in common.

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Classroom Practice

You might want to connect the energy bursts of ATP with movements of molecular machines, such as a machine that moves a particle actively from one side of a membrane to another.

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Central Concepts

Key Concept:

Nanomachines are machines constructed of nanoscale particles using the forces appropriate for that scale.

Additional Related Concepts

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Extensions and Connections

There are many additional nanomachines within the Molecular Workbench software.

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Activity Credits

Created by CC: Molecular Literacy using Molecular Workbench

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Last Update: 12/07/2015 Maintainer: CC Web Team (webmaster@concord.org)
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Copyright © 2018, The Concord Consortium.
All rights reserved.

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These materials are based upon work supported
by the National Science Foundation under grant numbers
9980620, ESI-0242701 and EIA-0219345

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this
material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect
the views of the National Science Foundation.