15 Oct 2015

Point Group Battles Activity

In-Class Activity

Submitted by Darren Achey, Kutztown University

In this activity, a pair of students are show an object or molecule and are asked to determine the point group before their competitor.

This activity is meant to be a fun way to develop the students ability to rapidly assign point groups to molecules and objects.  I wait until a week or two after the symmetry concepts are first shown to students so that they have developed some comfort with identifying symmetry elements and point groups prior to this activity.  Students really seem to enjoy the competitive nature of this activity and really get into determining the point groups (even if they are not the person up front at the time).  The ground rules that I use for this activity are in the instructor answer key, but they can easily be adapted for groups of different sizes (my Inorganic class usually is between 10-15 students).

Learning Goals: 

1. Students will accurately obtain the point groups of a variety of molecules and objects

2.  Students will develop the ability to identify point groups quickly

Equipment needs: 

A printout of the answer key and the objects/molecules that are already cut into individual pieces.

Slips of paper with each students name on it

Point Group flow charts for students (if you choose to give these, the flow chart I use is from the Shriver/Atkins Inorganic Chemistry book)

Implementation Notes: 

I assign teams randomly by using the slips of paper to pick teams.

I assign the competitors randomly also from within the team and do not allow anyone to go twice before everyone has gone once.

I choose the molecule or object randomly as well

Other ground rules I use are in the faculty answer key


Time Required: 
45 minutes
Evaluation Methods: 

Whoever identifies the point group correctly first gets 2 points for their team.

If the team answers correctly after both competitors answer, the team receives 1 point.

The team with the most points wins (I usually give 2 points extra credit on the next exam)

Evaluation Results: 

Students really seemed to enjoy the fun competitiveness this activity had.  There was very good participation amongst all students in the class.  Some students really gained a lot of confidence in their ability to assign point groups through this activity, particularly since it occurred roughly two weeks after point groups were first introduced and they had some time to practice visualizing the symmetry elements prior to this activity.  I think it would not be a good idea to use this as an introductory activity for point group assignment, as students would have a tough time assigning these molecules and objects right away.

Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence


This looks great! Definitely trying this. Thank you!

I tried it! Worked great.

i ran it with different rules, though. Split them into two teams, randomly called up pairs of students, gave them two minutes to try to guess, each right answer earned a point. After I went through all students, had an open "lightning round" where they had 1 minute to guess all of the rest of them and anyone could answer. Took photos of the two teams afterwards. They had a  great time! And it really helped sharpen their skills and point out what they needed to work on. 



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