Submitted by Austin Scharf / Oxford College of Emory University on Wed, 05/26/2021 - 12:23
My Notes

This is a worksheet designed for a flipped-classroom, in-class activity during the first course in our chemistry sequence.  It teaches the basics of Molecular Orbital Theory from a semi-qualitative standpoint, by showing the constructive and destructive overlap of s-orbital "wavefunctions."  The activity  illustrates the formation of the bonding and antibonding molecular orbitals in H2, shows its molecular orbital diagram, and introduces the concept of bond order.

Attachment Size
Basics of Qualitative MO Theory 637.61 KB
Learning Goals

By completing this activity, students will develop the skills to:

  1. Describe what happens when two waves (or wavefunctions) add together.
  2. Draw the resulting wavefunctions from the overlap of s atomic orbitals.
  3. Describe covalent bonding in terms of electrons populating molecular orbitals.
  4. Explain what an antibonding orbital is.
  5. Use the concept of bond order to explain why He2 does not exist.
Equipment needs


Implementation Notes

This worksheet has been used for several semesters as an in-class, group activity with guidance and support from an instructor.  However, it could also be used as a homework activity, especially if assigned as group work.  

Time Required
30-45 minutes


Evaluation Methods

As an in-class activity, we have never graded or evaluated student work on this activity.

Creative Commons License
Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike CC BY-NC-SA
Joanne Stewart / Hope College

Austin, this is exactly what I was looking for! You have saved me many hours. I'm developing some MO teaching materials based on student data from the VIPEr Fellows project. I'm starting with a short atomic orbital review to make sure students understand where the orbital signs (phases) come from. Then I want to do a simple constructive and destructive interference activity (which I'll take from this activity). And finally I'll develop an activity that helps them connect MO diagrams to physical properties of molecules. Thanks!

Mon, 11/14/2022 - 02:14 Permalink
Darren Achey / Kutztown University

This was a fantastic in-class activity that I used in my senior level inorganic course and it really helped everyone to visualize and think through what they thought they knew about orbitals as a precursor to MO's.

Tue, 06/27/2023 - 14:25 Permalink