Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mole Day - How Much Does a Mole Weigh?

It's not too often my younger children get to set up projects for their older siblings, but this week, Mole Day (the chemistry holiday celebrating Avogadro's number of 6.02 x 10^23, used for measuring atoms, and molecules, and the like) provided a perfect opportunity for them to pitch in.

They were a huge help coloring, cutting and gluing moles (the cute little animal kind) to tiny paper bags (courtesy of our local hardware store).

Actually, we only colored one coloring sheet, then scanned it, reduced its width by 50% and printed out a whole periodic table worth of 3''x5'', already colored moles, ready to be cut out and glued to bags, so the older children could label them with the elements of the periodic table...

...and then fill them with M&Ms approximating the atomic weight marked on each bag...

...before sorting and organizing the filled bags into order following the layout of the periodic table.

Just in case you're wondering - it takes a little more than 22 pounds of M&Ms to fill in for the weight of a mole of each element in the periodic table, and that's leaving out the lanthinide and actinide series'.

It's a lot of M&Ms.  But then, when compared with a mole of M&Ms (figured by multiplying the average weight of an M&M by Avogadro's number) it's not even a drop in the proverbial bucket.  And, as Mole Day comes only once year, and considering the amount of conversation generated when the children compare the light weight bags, approximating a mole of each element, with the truly phenomenal number of tons the same number of M&Ms would produce...it might even be worth it.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


  1. Wow! And then you get to eat M and M's for ages. :)

  2. Cristy - Ya...I told the kids that maybe we should eat one mole's worth of each element every day...but I think really we'll be sending quite a few pounds worth off to share with our high school and middle school youth groups.

  3. This-is-AWESOME!!!! I will be saving this for next year...

  4. I echo Christie - WOW! You put your youngest to work :) And how pathetic I was thinking that you are celebrating cute little animals and wondering why they have their own day!

  5. Oh man, I can just imagine cutting out all of those moles! I'm amazed your kids didn't lose interest after a few moles.

  6. Ticia - I sat and cut with them, and we listened to "Ramona the Brave" while we worked...so it felt like "seat work" and was a lot fun.

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