Submitted by Patrick Holland / Yale University on Mon, 07/28/2008 - 09:59
My Notes
Topics Covered

This is a game that gets students interested in point group symmetry, and helps them to see the symmetry in everyday objects. It is a competition in which the groups try to bring in the hardest object to assign. Inorganic Challenges are exercises designed to be solved by a small group of students. Some Challenges practice a problem-solving algorithm, some reinforce important concepts, and some involve creativity or games. You can pick and choose Challenges from our Web site to increase active learning in your classroom, and we ask that you contribute creative Challenges of your own to give a head start to teachers at other colleges and universities! Please visit

Attachment Size
sym1.pdf 62.66 KB
Equipment needs

whistle, timer

Time Required
45 min


Evaluation Results

varies widely. They always have fun, and regularly bring hilarious and/or difficult objects to assign!

Creative Commons License
Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike CC BY-NC-SA
Craig C. McLauchlan / Illinois State University
I have done this in my 200- and 300-level inorganic classes since I saw this posting some years ago.  I actually do NOT emphasize trying to stump the class at the 200-level.  They have brought some very cool objects in.  It does take quite a lot of time and I have not imposed the strict time limits mentioned here... it is more of a meandering chaotic mess, but it is a lot of fun.  I was unsure if it was worth using so much class time for this the first time I did it, but when my students began debating about point groups and symmetry elements and arguing their point based on the stated (or not) assumptions for these everyday objects, it warmed my heart.  Part of me wishes we could have that much fun with real molecules. ;)  Maybe I'll try adding some in next time!
Tue, 04/19/2011 - 20:22 Permalink