This article provides an entry point for students to apply their knowledge of electron configurations and molecular orbital theory to the lanthanide and actinide elements. We have provided a large number of possible questions to use, grouped by theme. Instructors can pick and choose questions that best fit their course.
Students will be able to
- Identify atomic orbitals capable of forming sigma, pi, delta, and phi bonds
- Outline the common oxidation states of the actinide elements
- Explain the trend (contraction) in ionic radius for actinide ions
This literature discussion works very well in conjunction with the two related activities listed. Instructors can choose which questions they would like to use, depending on topics they would like to emphasize. The article is rich and could be discussed at great depth, or an instructor could choose to focus on just one aspect. We saw some opportunities for discussing bond lengths, for example, but we did not develop any questions on that topic. We include recommendations for graphs showing periodic trends that can be obtained from other publications, but due to copyright concerns, we could not include the graphs directly.
This literature discussion could be divided into questions used as pre-class homework coupled with in-class discussion of other questions. One author used a draft of this discussion in class near the end of the foundation-level inorganic course. It provided a good review and extension of previous concepts such as quantum numbers, atomic orbital shapes, electron configurations of neutral atoms and ions, and molecular orbital theory.
Students were able to tackle a short set of preliminary questions before class.