This learning object was developed with a lot of help from B. Scott Williams from the Keck Science Department of the Claremont Colleges for my junior/senior level course in 2009. This object is a literature discussion on the topic, but Scott and I hope to add a 5-slides about learning object to go with it shortly. The primary literature article used for the discussion is “Characterization of a Rhodium(I) sigma-Methane Complex in Solution,” by Wesley H. Bernskoetter, Cynthia K. Schauer, Karen I. Goldberg, and Maurice “Brook” Brookhart, Science, 2009, 326, 553-556. This was done near the end of the course after students had gotten a brief introduction to organometallic reaction mechanisms and after they had learned about counting electrons. I wanted a "real world" example that would allow them to apply what they had learned.
- be able to count electrons and assign oxidation states
- be able to name elementary steps in an organometallic catalytic cycle
- be able to read and understand a scientific paper
- understand the significance of the quest to convert methane to methanol
- compare and contrast related chemistries
- use NMR data to infer and/or support structures
- be able to find the answers to your own questions
I actually did this assignment as an "Ask the Expert" session with my good friend B. Scott Williams who played an instrumental role in getting me up to speed on this topic. After covering basic electron counting and some basic types of organometallic reactions including oxidative addition and reductive elimination, and a few catalytic cycles, I did a half day lecture on why we'd want to convert methane to methanol from an economic and environmental perspective (Scott and I are working on getting a 5-slides about on this topic but it isn't posted yet--hopefully soon). After the introduction, I provided them with the 3 Chem Draw files with 3 different catalytic cycles (referred to in the handout and available below) then asked them to complete the questions on both the cycles and the paper in groups of 3 for homework. The next week we did a 1 h videoconference with Scott to go through the discussion questions. After our conversation, the students were allowed to edit their work and turn it in the next day. What was great about that interaction was his broader perspective as someone who has worked in the field.