Submitted by Jack Eichler / University of California, Riverside on Fri, 12/13/2019 - 15:30
My Notes

This activity is designed to be done in the middle of the typical first quarter/first semester general chemistry electronic structure unit. Students will be expected to have learned the following concepts prior to completing this activity:

a) how the four quantum numbers are determined (principal quantum number, angular momentum quantum number, magnetic quantum number, and electron spin quantum number);

b) the basic concept of electron spin, and how atomic orbitals that possess two electrons will result in the spin-paring of electrons;

c) how the filling of electrons in atomic orbitals follow the Aufbau Principle, Hund’s Rule, and the Pauli Exclusion Principle.

Acknowledgement: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1504989. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


Learning Goals

Students will complete the following learning objectives:

a) how the periodic table of the elements can be used to determine the principal quantum number and angular momentum quantum of an atom for any given element (i.e., how the periods correspond to different values of the principal quantum number, and how the blocks of the periodic table correspond to s, p, d, and f orbitals);

b) using the periodic table of the elements to draw electron configurations for neutral atoms;

c) using the orbital notation of the electron configuration to determine the number of unpaired electrons in an atom;

d) becoming familiarized with the relationship between unpaired electrons and magnetic fields.


Equipment needs

Suggested technology:

1) online test/quiz function in course management system

2) in-class response system (clickers)

Implementation Notes

See attached instructor notes. 

Time Required
50-80 minutes


Evaluation Methods
1) Performance on the pre-lecture online quiz

2) Performance on the in-class activity (clicker scores or hand-graded worksheet)


Evaluation Results

Students generally score on average 70% or higher on the pre-lecture quiz, and on average 70% or more of students correctly answer the in-class clicker questions. 

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