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  • Writer's pictureJolene Pappas

Carbon 'n Stuff: a chemistry of life identification game

Updated: Jan 15

At some point in the fall of 2022, while discussing the definition of organic molecules, I used the phrase "carbon 'n stuff." The name stuck and for the remainder of the year, that is how my AP Biology class referred to Unit 1 (Chemistry of Life). The Carbon 'n Stuff game is designed to help AP Biology students identify the compounds and molecules that they will need to recognize throughout the course.

In my AP Bio class, I don't assess if students memorize the names of various functional groups and specific chemical formulas (with a few exceptions), but the more familiar they are with various compounds, the easier some parts of the course will seem. Even in assessment questions where this knowledge is not required (for example, a question that is about data analysis), familiarity with various names and formulas can help students be more comfortable with the presented information. The more familiar they are with the vocabulary of the question, the better they can focus on what the question is actually asking.

There are four sections to the Carbon 'n Stuff game; inorganic compounds, functional groups, monomers, and macromolecules. While many of the inorganic compounds in the game are not specifically included in the AP Biology Course Description, they are good background knowledge and can show up in a number of relevant examples. The functional groups, monomers, and macromolecules have more direct connections to the course description.

While the game was designed with AP Biology Unit 1 in mind, it works as a review for AP Environmental Science as well, particularly the inorganic compounds section. If you need review for nutrient cycles, check out the Environmental Science game

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