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Atoms and Molecules

April 21, 1999

What do peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cars and CDs have in common? They are all made of atoms and molecules. Everything in the universe is made of these things. Want to learn more about the building blocks of our universe? Use the direct links on The Times Launch Point Web site,

Level 1

HyperMedia Textbook (Water, Matter and Energy, Atoms and Molecules): What happens to the molecules in water when water becomes an ice cube? What is the difference between a compound and a mixture? Find out through these illustrated lessons.

Miami Museum of Science-Atoms Family-The Phantom's Portrait Parlor: Visit "The Atoms Family" and see electrons spin around the nucleus. Discover through animation what happens to molecules as the temperature changes.

Welcome to Chem4Kids! Your Chemistry Web Site! What is a chemical reaction? What do atoms look like on the inside? And what happens when you combine different atoms together? Find out through a site that explains atoms, elements, matter and chemical reactions.

Level 2

DNA: The Instruction Manual for All Life: Learn about DNA and how it gives instructions to cells on how to build your body. Read about its discovery by James Watson and Francis Crick; see photos and animations of its double-helix shape.

Quia! Diatomic Molecules: Diatomic molecules contain two atoms of the same element. Try some online games to explore diatomic molecules, as well as some other chemistry concepts.

Dr. Universe: Atoms: It was in 430 BC that Democritus came up with the word "atom" to refer to the building blocks of matter. Find out how the concept of the atom has changed over time and how today's scientists are studying missing atoms.

Level 3

CHEMystery: Atomic structure, states of matter and nuclear reactions are just a few of the topics covered in this award-winning interactive textbook for high school chemistry students. View 3-D VRML renderings of molecules and learn about the history behind the periodic table of elements.

A Look Inside the Atom: British physicist J.J. Thomson's speculation that atoms were composed of smaller particles led to the discovery of electrons. Hear Thomson himself talk about the size of the electrons and view archival photos of equipment used in his experiments.

The Particle Adventure Home Page: Learn about protons, neutrons, electrons and quarks through this illustrated tour of the atom. View animations and read about the history of the discovery of the atom. This site is available in Spanish, French and Polish.


The answer to this Internet quiz can be found in the sites at right.

What is a chemical formula?

CLUE: See "The Atoms Family" (Mighty Molecules)

Find What You Need to Know: Have a project on California history? Need help doing a math problem? Launch Point now covers more than 80 topics for getting your schoolwork done. Go to for the full list of subjects and direct links to the best Internet sites.

Answer to last week's Quest: Cloud droplets are much smaller than raindrops, so they are capable of being suspended in the air for a long time.

Launch Point is produced by the UC Irvine department of education, which reviews each site for appropriateness and quality. Even so, parents should supervise their children's use of the Internet. This column was designed by Natalie Lester, Ron Schaefer, K. Michael Smuland and Anna Manring.

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