At the onset of the game, students are given a central molecular scaffold on which to build a new drug (Figure 1). The scaffold consists of a structure cut from cardstock with 3 or 4 of the outer molecular functional groups replaced with numerical “blanks”. To each “blank” is affixed a small bit of soft Velcro.
To fill in the blanks, the student is supplied multiple “molecular fragments” or pieces to choose from. To the underside of each “molecular fragment” is affixed a small piece of coarse Velcro (Figure 1). Hence, the “molecular fragment” can be readily attached to the “scaffold” via the Velcro, creating a molecule. Velcro enables quick detachment and exchange of the various functional groups, thereby allowing quick “synthesis” of molecules.
Figure 1. Game Pieces for the Allegra Puzzle. Coarse Velcro is attached to the underside of each of the blue, green, and red molecular fragments. (The molecular fragments on the second row are purposefully bent to show the coarse Velcro underneath.) The molecular scaffold is shown at the bottom in black. Soft Velcro is attached to the three attachment points on the face of the molecular scaffold as shown.
In addition to the molecular building blocks, the students are also given $700 (7 X $100 bills) in play start-up money. Students are told that they have just started a drug discovery company attempting to find a treatment for a particular disease. The money is needed to complete the drug discovery effort and will be spent on such things as paying scientists, buying equipment, renting laboratory space, etc. Play money can be obtained at any local dollar store.