At this exhibit twenty different molecules are available to select and rotate on the computer screen. These molecules are too small to see with the naked eye, but chemists have learned how many of them look by using special instruments such as scanning tunneling electron microscopes, atomic force field microscopes, X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance, gas chromatography, and gel electrophoresis. Atoms and bonds are built in for visitors to try constructing these molecules on their own.
Different molecules have different shapes which means they can have different functions. Whenever an atom is subtracted or added, even one atom, the molecule is changed and this new molecule may have different properties. Many of the molecules in living things are made up of four atoms: carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen. Visitors sit down at this exhibit and construct molecule models using these four atoms. Molecule models are on display or visitors can design their own molecules. Colored balls represent individual atoms and gray sticks represent bonds. (ages 3+ : small model pieces can be harmful if swallowed)
Visitors stand on the scale to find out how many molecules they are. We have slightly different proportions from other living things, even though we share a lot of the same molecules. A computer program allows the visitor to compare their molecular composition with bacteria, an elephant, a cockroach and even broccoli. A print out of the number of molecules that make up the visitor, the molecular composition of themselves, and the organism chosen for comparison is available.
Visitors view movies and images of cells dividing at this interactive computer exhibit. An experiment that was conducted to discover how cell division works is also included. In every living thing cells divide to make new cells which allow growth and repair of the body.