• American Girl Doll Crafter

A Sweet Math Challenge - Doll STEM Camp 2018

Today at Doll STEM Camp, we're going to do something different than our normal DIY's- it's time for a sweet math challenge!

You may have heard the joke, "You can't trust an atom, they make up everything." Believe it or not, that's actually true! Though atoms are not liars, these extremely small particles make up everything we see in the world.

There are many different types of atoms- about 116 to be exact. When two or more atoms link together through bonds, a molecule is formed. For example, the water you drink contains thousands of water molecules, and each water molecule is then made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. The official chemical formula (or chemical name) for a water molecule is H2O; it has two hydrogen atoms (H2) and one oxygen atom (O). The small number, called a subscript, indicates how many of each atom is in the molecule. By just adding or subtracting a few atoms, you can end up with a totally different molecule!

For a long time, scientists haven't been able to see atoms or molecules since they are so small. Even today with the most advanced technology, most observers tend to rely on a model, a representation of something that is unseen. In today's activity, we will be making our own math molecule models, but with a tasty twist! Gather your materials for our sweet math challenge!


  • Gumdrops or mini marshmallows (7 red, 2 green, 6 white, and 2 purple)

  • Toothpicks

  • Molecule Chart (Optional)

1. To begin, print out the Molecule Chart for reference. If a printer is not available, follow along using the chart above.

2. Divide your gumdrops into groups according to color. Red will represent oxygen, green is nitrogen, purple will be carbon, and white is hydrogen.

3. Now, here is where math comes into play! Using the chart, count the correct number of gumdrop atoms for each molecule. Connect them together with toothpicks representing the bonds.

Mix things up with a few challenges!

Can you create a molecule by only looking at the chemical formula?

Without using the chart, can you tell which molecules contain oxygen? Which ones contain carbon?

Add or subtract gumdrop atoms in a molecule. How will this change the chemical formula? Try writing out the new one!

And of course, don't forget to taste your molecules when you're finished!

Your dolls can make their own molecule models, too! Print out the Doll Molecule Chart, and cut the gumdrops and toothpicks to a smaller size.

Camp Conversations - Episode 7

"Mmmm... I like atoms." Meg says as she pops a gumdrop in her mouth. "They're tasty!"

"Meg!" Ella laughs. "You're eating all of our gumdrops! We need those to complete the challenge."

"Don't worry," Luciana gestures toward a pile of gumdrops on the counter. "I think we'll have plenty!"

Grabbing a red gumdrop, Ella returns to her work. "Did you know that by adding one more oxygen atom to H2O, you can create Hydrogen Peroxide, called H2O2? Unlike water, it is not safe to drink!"

Just then, Johanna enters the lab with a handful of gumdrops.

"Hey," she says with a mischievous sparkle in her eye. "Why were the atoms such good friends?"

Meg and Luciana giggled, while Ella rolled her eyes playfully.

"They bonded together!" the three girls exclaimed in unison.

Johanna burst into a fit of laughter. "Ha ha! That joke was... corny, as you Americans say!"

Johanna's impish grin faded soon into a sweet, serious smile as she gathered around her teammates.

"But really, we are kind of like the atoms, too. Close friends, yes?"

Once again, the campers answered together. "Yes!"

Be sure to check out the American Girl STEM Prize Package Giveaway!

If you complete a craft or want to share a photo of your doll at camp, snap a picture and send it in or share on Instagram using the hashtag #DollSTEMCamp2018 to be featured in the Camp Recap each Sunday!Email:​

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