Computational Chemistry Activities

The following activities were developed for use in a non-majors liberal arts chemistry course taught at SUNY College at Oneonta. They introduce basic molecular modeling techniques to reinforce the concepts of molecular structure and the properties of molecules that arise as a consequence of that structure. The "Greenhouse Gas" activity is entirely computer-based, whereas "Melamine Contamination in Food" combines a wet lab experiment with a computer visualization exercise. All computational exercises employ the software deployed on College at Oneonta's computational chemistry web server. Inquiries about acquiring a guest account may be directed to the server administrator, Dr. Kelly Gallagher (

Greenhouse Gases

Activity Objectives:

- To learn how to use molecular modeling software to visualize the structure of molecules
- To gain an understanding of the greenhouse effect via a comparison of the structures and vibrations of greenhouse and non-greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse gas activity instructions

Supplemental article, "Life in the Greenhouse" (ChemMatters, October 2003)

Melamine Contamination in Food

Activity Objectives:

- To observe the effect changes in pH can have on molecular solubility
- To study the formation of an insoluble hydrogen bonded complex
- To gain a molecular-level understanding of hydrogen bonding

Melamine activity instructions (this exercise was written presuming students had completed the greenhouse gas exercise and were therefore somewhat familiar with the modeling software)