I gave a one-day workshop on the beaded molecules for some junior high school students this summer (7/2-7/3/2009) at Taichung, Taiwan. Here is a picture about the workshop.
In the morning, after a brief introduction on the chemical bonding and a few simple molecular structures, I then started to teach student the platonic solids and basic weaving techniques by asking them to make a C20 (a dodecahedron). I simply asked students follow my instructions step by step without too much explanation. This is because, I think, it is important to have some hands on experience for constructing beaded fullerenes first. Some students can get the basic rules of weaving just after a few steps, others may take a longer time and kept asking me how to do the next step. But it took about an hour for all students to get the first project done. I also found that it is better to use larger beads around 10mm to 12 mm for students who have no experience in beading. To create a C20, one need 30 beads. So it is not too expensive even for a group of 50 students.
The next project in the afternoon was to construct a C60. Of course, before we started to do that, I explain the icosahedron, truncated icosahedron and a few background information on fullerenes to them. Unlike C20, where all atoms and bonds are equivalent, here we have two different bond types, 5-6 and 6-6 bonds, so it is natural to use two different color of beads for the construction. In fact, this is not a burden for weaving. Instead, color of beads can be used as a mnemonic aid for denoting the place of pentagons. One needs 90 beads to represent chemical bonds in a C60. Since students have some experience in the morning for making a C20, I find it convenient and more cost effective to use 6mm beads with two different colors for students to work on in this project. It took about 2 hours for most of students to construct his or her C60.
The picture shown below is the C60 I made in this workshop. At the end, I gave it to one of students in this workshop as a souvenir.