Students are sent to find (and take pictures) of items in various point groups around campus. Generally, I give them a list of possible offices (though they are free to go to other places) and point groups (some hard) and the following ground rules:
- You must not destroy anything.
- You may only find one object per office.
- You may not interrupt any meeting or class.
- You must say thank you to the people in the office you interact with.
I hide some "special" objects that are hard to find point groups (i.e. a soccer ball in the President's Office).
The team to come back with pictures and correct point group identifications of the most objects in a set time period (30-45 minutes) wins a prize.
After finishing this activity students should be able to apply knowledge of symmetry operations and the point group flow chart to everyday objects.
Students will also appreciate that symmetry is everywhere!!!
A camera for every group (or students with camera phones) is helpful.
Staff in "lesser known" offices really enjoy interacting with the students. For example, I often put one of the special objects in the head of housekeeping's office and another in the head of the cafeteria office. Our president and staff (properly warned!) also like having students come by!
On future quizzes or exams, students are asked to determine the point group of a molecule (or several!).
Students typically are able to find correct point groups for their objects, but sometimes don't find them all within the appropriate amount of time.