Submitted by Kyle Grice / DePaul University on Mon, 01/25/2016 - 21:26
My Notes

This is an in-class activity I made for my students in a Junior/Senior-level one-quarter inorganic course. 

Unfortunately it was waaay too long for the 1.5 h class (i gave them about 45 min). I recommend taking this and adapting it to a take-home exercise or homework set, which is probably what I will do this coming year. 

Students used Otterbein to look at various structures, starting with low symmetry, working up to very high symmetry structures. I had them go through the "challenge" so they couldn't see the keys at first, but then go back to check their answers. 

Before class, I had students watch a TED-talk video on symmetry (see web resources) and lectured for about 45 minutes on point groups and symmetry elements. They were also expected to read the chapter on symmetry from MFT.

Attachment Size
Otterbein In Class ActivityKAGVIPEr.docx 49.44 KB
Learning Goals

-          Students will be able to visualize chemical species as 3-dimensional objects

-          Students will practice identifying symmetry elements of chemical species

-          Students will practice determining point groups of chemical species

-          Students will practice recognizing molecules of low and high symmetry

Equipment needs

I ran this activity in a computer lab. You need internet connection and computers with the proper specs to use Otterbein. Students could bring their own laptops to do the exercise. 

Implementation Notes

Give your students plenty of time, or make this a take-home assignmnet/homework assignment. Stuedents did enjoy this and found it very useful compared to just work on a flat surace. 

Time Required
45+ minutes


Evaluation Methods

I gave students participation credit for doing this activity, and asked students to comment on the activity during my teaching evaluations. 

Evaluation Results

Students commented in the teaching evaluations that they really liked this activity and it helped them understand symmetry a lot better than just reading the text and going to the lectures. 

Creative Commons License
Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike CC BY-NC-SA
Kyle Grice / DePaul University

I've used this several years in a row. Students generally like it and say it was more useful than just a regular lecture. A few have said tha they want to go over them together as a class, whereas I let students do it as a more self-directed execise.


Tue, 05/23/2017 - 11:46 Permalink
Graham Sazama / Lawrence University

Thanks Kyle! This worked great when I adapted my symmetry dry lab for distance learning. The Otterbein website substituted well for model kits, and does a better job of explaining the different symmetry elements than I do waving my hands around in front of a camera.

Wed, 09/16/2020 - 11:32 Permalink
Chip Nataro / Lafayette College

Spoiler Alert! Look for a SLiThEr in late October 2020 in which Otterbein Symmetry creator Dean Johnston takes us on a tour of the site. 

Thu, 09/17/2020 - 10:37 Permalink
Abby O'Connor / The College of New Jersey

Thanks for this Kyle; I look forward to using this with my students. Doing symmetry right now and shared in my video all the great resources at Otterbein Symmetry. 

Wed, 09/23/2020 - 11:55 Permalink