This is a digital "escape room" where students determine point groups of molecules and answer follow-up questions to determine four digits. The four digits can be used to unlock a physical lockbox which is brought to class with small prizes inside.
1. Identify the symmetry elements in a given molecule
2. Assign the point group of a given molecule (with the aid of the point group flow chart).
- Lockbox (optional)
- Prizes (optional)
- Individual or classroom set of model kits capable of constructing molecules/shapes students are given
- Printed hand outs of point group flow chart
I began this activity after students had approx. 2 class periods to learn each of the symmetry operations then how to use the flow chart to assign point groups. Before the class in which we implemented this activity, I randomly put students in groups of 3-4, had them select a team name, and had them designate at least one person to bring a laptop computer to the next class meeting. This class is typically about 35-40 students, so I have had up to 10 teams.
I created the "escape room" on Google Forms by utilizing sections - students could only see one molecule/shape at a time, and could not move on until they entered the correct point group. However, the follow-up questions (which actually yield the digits they need) are not corrected by the Google Form, so it is possible to have the incorrect number combination at the end. The PDF attachment is a printout of what the entire Google Form looked like (with answers to the point groups), and the linked URL is a copy of the same "escape room" if you'd like to try going through it yourself.
The activity was well-received overall, and was implemented in a year with a particularly quiet class. After this activity, they spoke to one another and worked in groups much more efficiently.
This in-class activity has not been formally evaluated. Symmetry has historically been a difficult topic for students to grasp in this course, and there has been marked improvement in understanding (as qualified by exam and quiz scores pertaining to this material) since implementing this activity. Additionally, I find this is a helpful way to introduce teamwork and camaraderie into a class.