Carbon Central Printable Chemistry Card Game

Grade Levels
6th - 9th
Formats Included
  • Zip
36 cards
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Please open the preview to see how the pages are structured - there are "crop marks" and instructions for how best to cut the cards out. The cards are not border-lined (because they look better that way when you use the crop marks!) :)

There are two card games/activitites you could play with these cards and I include instructions for both!

For the first activity, you can have students practice writing formulas and naming compounds with one central carbon and 4 functional groups. You can make it a race - I call it Fastest Formula Writer!

Secondly (this is the game these cards were really designed for), you can teach your students to play a game I call Carbon Central! I include detailed instructions, including a "trick" diagram to explain to students what it is.

This biochemistry or chemistry card game is a trick-taking game. You may be familiar with hearts or spades or pinochle. Carbon Central is a basic trick-taking game where students win tricks by placing the highest card (highest by atomic number!) of a particular color in a set of 4 cards. The game is meant to be played with two teams of 2; players on the same team sit across from each other.

The goal in the game is for a team to get the most points, and the high cards in the game provide points (these cards have a red +1 point value on them to remind students which provide points and which don't).

Here's why I created this game:

This is the sneaky teacher-y part of this game: in biochemistry and organic chemistry, the determination of the arrangement around a chiral center carbon is really important. Scientists need to determine whether something is an R or S enantiomers. How scientists determine that is by the groups attached to the central carbon! The atomic number gives an atom priority in this determination. By playing this chemistry card game, students will gain a gut-feeling about the size of functional groups and their chiral-center-naming-priority, just by playing this game for fun!

These are the functional groups included in these cards:





Methyl group

Amine group


Hydroxyl group

Printing Instructions/Recommendations:

To prepare these for your class, I suggest printing on thick card stock if you can, or print them on paper and glue that paper page to card stock before cutting. For card backs, I recommend actually using card game card sleeves. Another option is to glue a solid color piece of paper onto the back of the card stock before you cut it out. You can also then laminate them if you want them to last longer in student hands.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask in the Q&A section and I will get back to you when I can!

(C) Bethany Lau, Science with Mrs. Lau, LLC

Total Pages
36 cards
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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