Carl Aronson (Northeastern State University – Broken Arrow, USA), Samuel Aronson (Broken Arrow Senior High School, USA)
Organic chemistry professors routinely emphasize electron pushing to form reactive intermediates in teaching reaction mechanisms to synthesize target molecules. Nevertheless, many undergraduates struggle with abstract sequential mechanistic steps occurring at the angstrom scale and become formulaic. Students can routinely visualize meter scale mechanical mechanisms prompting the unique linking of mechanical and chemical processes for understanding organic syntheses. Organic mechanistic steps were superimposed onto more familiar mechanical type mechanisms to increase chemical reasoning. Similarities in mechanistic repetition as well as differences in length scale and energy transport were emphasized. The atomic coordinates from energy minimized molecular models of reactive intermediates were scaled using computer-aided design (CAD) techniques. Tangible centimeter-scale models of intangible nanometer-scale molecular molecules were rapid prototyped, which poignantly depicted their dependence on conformation and steric hindrance. Mechanistic dynamics were also depicted using computer animation techniques. Preliminary results indicate that intertwining organic mechanisms with these computer techniques significantly decreases compulsion toward formulaic memorization.