On Friday, January 14th, members of the Owen and Parkin groups met with the 5th grade science classes at Augustus Saint-Gaudens elementary school to deliver the message:  “The world is made of legos!” 


The 5th graders worked along with undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students to build the molecules of everyday life.  From sugars to plastics, vitamins to spearmint and cinnamon, the 5th graders learned that the shapes of molecules determine their smell, their rigidity and their function in the body. 


The students from Columbia learned that 5th graders are very smart and can understand concepts like chirality (that molecules can be left handed or right handed), that plastics are polymers assembled from monomers, and that starch and cellulose are polymers both made from glucose monomers.


Many thanks are owed to Mr. Graham White, the 5th grade science teacher, as well as Maruzen International, the maker of the model kits used in our visit.

Making Connections By Hand