Where to buy models of molecules?
January 7, 2008 1:55 PM   Subscribe

What is a bricks-and-mortar store at which I could buy a set of model elements / bonds - the molecule model things that students use as they are learning organic chemistry?

I unexpectedly need a model to teach bonds in organic chemistry, and I need it too soon for online shipping to get here. I'm looking for the kind of model elements and bonds (the little black carbons that snap into the little white hydrogens, etc) that students usually use as they're learning chemistry / organic chemistry.

I'm in the St. Louis area, if there are stores you know specific to that area. But I'm perfectly happy with chain stores that I'd find in malls, etc. Thanks for helping a teacher out!
posted by Chanther to Education (14 answers total)
Perhaps a university bookstore?
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:57 PM on January 7, 2008

If not a university bookstore (especially ones associated w/universities that have big education or nursing programs), check the most upscale local mall. I just learned that Zany Brainy is long since bankrupt, but surely there's another mall store that sells educational toys (and Sanrio and Brio and Playmobil and whatnot) to rich parents.

If all else fails, you might be able to make do with a set of Tinkertoys.
posted by box at 2:02 PM on January 7, 2008

I know I bought mine in my college book store. It was required as part of O-Chem to have a set. I would call around - I would bet you'll have your best luck there.
posted by Wolfie at 2:10 PM on January 7, 2008

Just googling, but have you tried the ExploreStore at the Science Center?
posted by cabingirl at 2:12 PM on January 7, 2008

Try here. This is a gem that we keep to ourselves in Chicago.
posted by zerobyproxy at 2:17 PM on January 7, 2008

Michael's Crafts has a styrofoam set meant for school science projects.
posted by selfmedicating at 2:26 PM on January 7, 2008

College books stores will be your best bet. If you are going for rough approximations Marshmallows and tooth picks/wooden skewers work and are cheap & edible (helps to draw students attention), for something a bit sturdier styrofoam balls and skewers are another option, just be sure to show your students that carbon sp3 bonds are not 90 degree angles, a major misconception even in supposedly highly ranked colleges.
posted by estronaut at 2:37 PM on January 7, 2008

Magnetix toys may be a good pinch-hit substitute, although I think the magnetic balls are all the same size. These are available in every toy store. Try not to swallow any.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:26 PM on January 7, 2008

If not univ bookstore, usually bn.com has info on things in stock in their bricks and mortar stores. Alas St louis,MO barnes and nobles have no models in stock.
posted by lalochezia at 3:54 PM on January 7, 2008

Our barnes and noble has them, as does our books-a-million. Craft stores like Michaels or Jo-Ann Fabrics will have them too.
posted by TomMelee at 5:21 PM on January 7, 2008

Re: B&N - Really? I worked for them for a long time in several different stores in two different regions and I never saw one of these at any of my stores.

Anyway, if you're in St. Louis, call the bookstore on the campus of Washington University. Even if they don't have them, they'll be able to tell you who does. (Answer based on my personal hunt for a set, ca. 2000 at Louisiana State.)
posted by slenderloris at 6:11 PM on January 7, 2008

AC Moore and Michaels have Styrofoam spheres in lots of sizes and dowels (sticks) of various lengths.
posted by sandra_s at 8:00 PM on January 7, 2008

My first organic chemistry class was assisted by marshmallows and gumdrops with toothpicks. Tthe lab portion wasn't nearly as tasty, though...
posted by BenzeneChile at 8:34 PM on January 7, 2008

If none of the bookstores pan out, you might try calling the Chemistry department at a local university, and see if they have a group selling them. At my school the chemistry fraternity sold the models to the undergrads taking O-Chem as a regular fund raiser for the group. They may have some around to sell.
posted by everybody polka at 8:57 PM on January 7, 2008

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