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Thermal (Brownian) Motion: Atoms and Molecules Are Always Moving

Thermal (Brownian) Motion: Atoms and Molecules Are Always Moving

In this activity, by the Concord Consortium's Molecular Literacy project, students will see that "when a small particle is surrounded by water molecules (or by other atoms/molecules), the resulting motion looks random. The particle appears not to move in straight lines. However, this apparently random movement is due to collisions with many other atoms or molecules, all moving in straight lines until they collide." Upon completion of this activity students should be able to replicate Brown's experiment in which he discovered Brownian motion; explain that the apparent random motion of atoms and molecules is responsible for many cellular processes; and analyze how temperature influences the motion of particles. The activity itself is a java-based interactive resource built upon the free, open source Molecular Workbench software. In the activity, students are allowed to explore at their own pace in a digital environment full of demonstrations, illustrations, and models they can manipulate. In addition to the activity, visitors will find an overview of the activity, a test and rubric, central concepts, and their correlation to AAAS standards.

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