6 Jan 2015

Visualization of Zeolite Structure

In-Class Activity

Submitted by Erica Gunn, Simmons College

Students use a Java-based website to explore the faujasite zeolite structure. The activity questions guide them through identifying different atomic positions within the structure, and orienting the zeolite pores and "cages" relative to the crystal axes. 

Learning Goals: 

Students will use computer modeling to visualize the 3D crystal structure of a zeolite, and will identify "cage" and pore structures within the solid.

Equipment needs: 

Computer with a web browser capable of running Java 

Related activities: 
Implementation Notes: 

I used this activity as a prelab assignment for a zeolite synthesis experiment (see related activities). Students did the modeling and answered the questions at home, and submitted their answers at the beginning of the lab period. It could be adapted equally well to an in-class activity if desired. 

Several students had technical difficulties allowing Java permission to run in Windows and web browsers. For me, the simplest solution was to:

1) Type "Configure Java" into Windows search bar  

2) Go to security tab

3) Add website to Exception Site list

Beware that this may require administrator privileges, so it's best to have a technology rep handy or test out in advance if you're running this in the classroom! 

Even with this fix, I did have to allow popups multiple times in some browsers (including allowing an out-of-date Java script, I believe) to get the program to run. 


Time Required: 
30 mins
Evaluation Methods: 

Student answers to the activity questions were collected and graded based on participation/completeness.

Evaluation Results: 

Despite some technical difficulties, all students were able to access the site and seemed to find the activity helpful for understanding the zeolite cage structure. Almost all students were able to count the number of cages, identify high-symmetry orientations, and all but a few were able to draw the position of oxygen atoms in the structure successfully. Most identified the pores correctly in the expanded-view structure, though a few students had difficulty orienting the pore direction correctly relative to the unit cell dimensions. 

Creative Commons License: 
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