Submitted by Adam Johnson / Harvey Mudd College on Tue, 05/19/2020 - 16:59
My Notes

This guided inquiry activity takes the students through the whole process of constructing an MO diagram for water in detail. The LGOs are constructed using my graphical approach (linked below) and hybrid orbital formation is discussed. Along the way, students are given hints on what to think about when constructing an MO diagram.

Learning Goals

Students will derive the LGOs for water.

Students will derive the MO diagram for water without sp mixing.

Students will derive the MO diagram for water with sp mixing.


Equipment needs


Implementation Notes

This would come after spending several class periods developing LGOs for polyatomics.

I use this method (though not this detailed worksheet) every year in class. I have students divide up into teams and work together at the chalkboard on molecules like borane, methane, water, SF4, and others. I circulate through the class and correct their diagrams in real time. Then at the end, each team presents their MO diagram and its major features.

Time Required
30 minutes


Evaluation Methods

Since this is done in class, it is not graded. Since I correct their mistakes in real time, the final MO diagram is usualy almost perfect.

Evaluation Results

Students don't know which orbitals to mix to form MOs at first and need guidance.

Students don't really understand the concept of hybrid orbitals within the framework of MO theory until they see a few examples.


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