Shops and shoppers in Kirkwall will be back in action this year with the Great Molecule Hunt. It starts on Saturday 29 August to give the opportunity for two weekends of molecule hunting as well as the full period of the Festival.

Twenty shops in and around the town centre have joined in to set the challenge. Each shop will have a model of a particular molecule related to its business tucked away somewhere in the window or inside.

The molecules are beautiful and varied, ranging from glucose and cellulose to linalool (the flavour of lavender) and cinnamaldehyde (the flavour of cinnamon).

The competition is organised by Sandy and Lorna Smith of Science@Cwaben, in collaboration with Kirkwall BID (Business Improvement District), with support from the Pickaquoy Centre.

The molecules are made out of the Molymod system and the first correct entry out of the hat on 9 September will win a Molymod kit kindly donated by Philip Spiring of Molymod.

Spiring Enterprises, a British company, developed the Molymod system as an educational tool for teachers, researchers and students 12 years and over, and the kits are highly regarded.

“I have had a few molecule kits, but this one is by far the best,” says one online review of the Molymod Organic Student Set. “The bonds fit easily and the atoms are large and in scale to the links. This kit makes molecules interesting and fun.”

“This kit was for my 12 year son who really got into chemistry lately,” says another review. “He really likes it and wants more atoms (pieces)! Would recommend it for any budding chemist.”

Participants enjoy the challenge of going round the shops to hunt for the various molecules. “Great original way to explore Kirkwall,” wrote one entrant in a previous year. “Good way to spend a wet Monday,” wrote another. “I really enjoyed the hunt,” said one of the younger entrants. “I’ve been asking mum about science.


Look for the Kirkwall molecules

Twenty town centre businesses will take part in the 2015 Great Molecule Hunt in Kirkwall


Cycle Orkney (Tankerness Lane) – Cycle Shop / Hire
The Delectable Mrs D’s (Victoria Street) – Lingerie
The Edinburgh Woollen Mill (Albert Street) – Jumpers, scarves, socks
Grooves (Albert Street) – CDs, DVDs, etc

The International Takeaway (Bridge Street) – Fish and chips, kebabs
J&M McEwen (Junction Road) – Furniture
Judith Glue (Broad Street) – Knitwear, local produce supplier
Kirkness & Gorie (off Broad Street) – Delicatessen, wine and cheese

Kirkwall Hydro Shop (Albert Street) – Electrical goods
KT Sports (Albert Street) – Sports retail
Lows Orkney (Broad Street) – Solicitors and estate agents
Orcadian Bookshop (Albert Street) – Bookshop

The Orkney Hotel (Victoria Street) – Hotel
Orkney Leasing (Albert Street) – Property management and letting
Orkney Soap Company (Albert Street) – Orkney and Shetland soaps and lotions
Orkney Television Enterprise (Broad Street) – White goods supplier

Pickaquoy Centre (Muddisdale Road) – Sport, arts and leisure centre
Sheila Fleet (Bridge Street) – Jewellery
Sutherland’s Pharmacy (Victoria Street) – Pharmacy and photography
Visit Scotland T I C (West Castle Street) – Visitor information

In addition to the Molecule Hunt there will be the opportunity to see a model of a nanotube on display in the Library again.  You can also attend the Family Day in the King Street Halls on Saturday 5 September where you will have the opportunity to construct a molecule model yourself.  Experts will be on hand to assist if required.