Shops and shoppers in Kirkwall will be back in action this year with the Great Molecule Hunt. It starts on Saturday 2 September 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, and we will have some early details here in the weeks ahead.

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 and Pentland Ferries.

The molecules are made out of the Molymod system and the first correct entry out of the hat on 13 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.”


There were 10 correct entries for last year’s Molecule Hunt. The draw was held in the Orkney Theatre just before the Big Bubble Show, and the winner was Grace Sinclair, New Scapa Road. The runners up, who also received prizes from Molymod, were Elle Williams of Douglas Loan and Serena Shearer of Cromwell Crescent.

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 2017 Great Molecule Hunt in Kirkwall


Age Scotland Orkney (Victoria Street)
Aurora Jewellery
CLAN Cancer Support
Cycle Orkney (Tankerness Lane) – Cycle Shop / Hire

For Arts Sake
John Kemp

Judith Glue (Broad Street) – Knitwear, local produce supplier
Kirkness & Gorie (off Broad Street) – Delicatessen, wine and cheese

The Orcadian Bookshop (Albert Street) – Bookshop
Orkney Hotel (Victoria Street) – Hotel
Orkney Library and Archive (Junction Road)
Orkney Signs

Orkney Soap Company (Albert Street) – Orkney and Shetland soaps and lotions

Orkney Tech
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
William Shearer (Victoria Street)

You can also attend the Family Day in the King Street Halls on Saturday 9 September where you will have the opportunity to construct a molecule model yourself. Experts will be on hand to assist if required. There are photos from last year’s molecule making here.