Submitted by Adam Johnson / Harvey Mudd College on Wed, 01/11/2017 - 16:57

Well, it's time to dust off the symmetry challenge. First offered in 2009, we've made some changes to the site and our social media presence (I'm looking at you Flo, with your Facebook, and Twitter addiction) that make it likely that we will have more than just 2 schools submitting. If you're looking for a fun competition to pit your students against students across the world, here it is. Since symmetry is usually an early component of an inorganic course, I'm making the deadline March 3rd.

Here is text you can hand out in your class:

Here is a chance to show your symmetry skills to all the inorganic chemists and students of inorganic chemistry on!

Given a cube and 6 lines, one (and only one!) on each face of the cube, how many objects of different point group symmetry can you construct?  Each of the six lines must fit edge to edge, vertex to vertex, or edge to vertex.

The student who comes up with the most examples of different point groups (you only get credit for one object from each point group) wins!  Send Adam Johnson an email using the contact info on his profile on with your submission. The subject line should say "VIPEr symmetry challenge." For the 2017 contest, submissions are due March 3rd. No submissions received after 5:00 pm Pacific Time on March 3rd will be accepted. The prize will a selection of (yet to be determined) fun VIPEr products including your own snake mascot, and the opportunity to be prominently featured on the VIPEr home page!

Here are two to get you started:
a)  the 6 lines go vertex to vertex, it is a tetrahedron inscribed in a cube with Td symmetry

b)  a mixture of edge to edge and vertex to vertex, this object has Cs symmetry

How many more can you come up with?


Mitch Anstey / Davidson College

Very cool! I might do this!

I'll admit that I first read Cs as C5 symmetry in (b), and I felt completely lost. I'm glad I took a closer look at the screen!

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 12:20 Permalink
Adam Johnson / Harvey Mudd College

i've had some people email me and tell me that the images don't download. Not sure why this is. I was able to get the images off the blog post by dragging to my desktop and then could import them into word. I hope that helps.

Mon, 01/30/2017 - 10:54 Permalink
Mitch Anstey / Davidson College

I right-clicked and saved them as pictures, then added to the document. If I highlight the text plus figures above, copy/paste into a Word doc, the pictures don't go with it.

Mon, 01/30/2017 - 13:47 Permalink