31 Mar 2014

Organometallic reactions via student skits

Submitted by Lori Watson, Earlham College

I’m a big fan of getting students up out of their chairs and moving around during lecture.  I’m not altogether convinced they learn concepts we act out better than ones we don’t, but they sure enjoy it more!  This week in my Inorganic course we were doing a quick overview of organometallic reaction types and catalytic cycles.  It was a particularly cold, grey, rainy day and a number of my students were all pretty tired from studying for their Senior Comprehensive exams.  They were supposed to have read all about different organometallic reactions from their text, but it was clear in about 20 seconds that none had.  So… Theater to the Rescue!  I split my class of 16 into 4 groups.  I gave one group ligand substitution, another oxidative addition/reductive elimination, another 1,2 insertions and beta hydride eliminations, and the final group cyclometallations and alpha, gamma, and delta hydride elimination.  I gave them 5 minutes to read their section in the book, and another 5 minutes to get with their group and come up with an acted-out visual representation of their reaction. I told them they could do it to any song on their phones they chose.  I wish I had thought to videotape them (I will next year!).  My favorite was ligand substitution to the song “Let it go” from Frozen.  They set it up as a love triangle skit—do you push away your partner, before you look for someone new? Or to you hang onto both, and then decide?  They all did good jobs explaining their reaction after their mini-skits/dances.  And while it took the whole class period, they were happy, I got to look at engaged faces, and a quick check-quiz the next meeting showed that they could identify which reactions were which.  I’ll count it as a success!


I can't believe there are no pics!


wow, I like that idea a lot! And the ligand substitution skit shows a depth of understanding of the mechanism.  great!