As my students draw structures, I usually observe them and make suggestions to improve their drawings.
While I do no formal assessment of this activity, I have observed that students seem to learn how to use the program fairly quickly and then use it without much difficulty for the rest of the semester.
It is important for students to be able to effectively communicate the results of their scientific work. This does not only inlcude written and oral communication, but the creation of appropriate representations of the complexes they have investigated. It is crucial that students learn how to draw molecules using electronic structure drawing programs, but site licenses for structure drawing programs can be prohibitive for some institutions.
Marvin suite is a software package from ChemAxon that is freely avaialble for educational institutions. It contains a structure drawing program (MarvinSketch) and a viewer (MarvinView), as well as tools that allow for the calculation of many molecular and spectroscopic properties of molecules. This is a very useful suite of programs that can be used by all students and faculty at an instituion once an Academic License is obtained.
A set of directions for drawing a coordination complex in MarvinSketch is also included as part of this learning object. These directions will guide the user as they draw the structure of a square-planar coordination complex, trans-[Ni(NCS)2(PMe3)2].
After following the instructions, students should be able to draw a chemical structure electronically using a chemical structure drawing program.
Once the structure in drawn in the program, a user would then be able to access the many other functions available in the software.
During the first week of our semester, lab sections are usually not held for courses so that student enrollment issues can be sorted out. In an advanced course such as Inorganic Chemistry, I want to take advantage of every week that I can so I use the first lab meeting time to have students learn how to use several software programs that they wil use over the course of the semester.
I post the download link and the license file for the software on the course LMS before the lab period and I ask the students to download and install the software. You should make sure that students update their Java installation before installing the Marvin suite. (I also place a link to the Java download site on the course LMS as well, but students tend to ignore it.) Aside from the Java issue, I have found that there are no real issues encountered by students when they install the software.
When we meet, I ask the students to follow the linked instructions to create a drawing of a coordination complex. Once they complete that successfully, I ask them to draw several other structures. I do not have any specific structures that I use, but I try to choose complexes with different geometries (octahedral, tetrahedral, square pyramidal, etc.) around the metal center.
The Marvin suite of programs provides the students with a number of useful tools, not just a structure drawing progam. Students use this to calculate or estimate a number of different things, such as the molecular mass, the elemental analysis, a mass spectrum, 1H and 13C NMR, and charge distribution.
To obtain a license file, the faculty member must log into the ChemAxon site and request an Academic License. Once approved, the instituion is allowed to use the software for 2 years and the license can be easily renewed when it expires.
Follow up small group work with a class discussion of the correct answers. Grade students on participation and completness
This literature discussion uses a recently published article on solvatochromic Mo complexes to introduce students to the different components of a research article. The activity is divied into to two parts. Before class students read the paper and focus on defining terms, investigating the "meta" data of the paper, and the different sections iof the paper. In class the students work in groups to investigate the scientific content of the paper
Students should be able to:
- Interpret the roles that authors play in a research project
- Recognize the different sections of a research article and the purpose of each section
- Understand how to access supporting information and the type of information found there
- Find key conclusions of a research paper and the experimental evidence the author used to make those conclusions
I use this activity as a "badge," which is self-paced guided skill-building activity that students complete on their own time outside of class. Badges are designed around fundamental chemistry skills that students wouldn’t necessarily acquire from standard course content and lectures. They carry a very small point value (about 2% of the course total per badge) but my students are very motivated by even small amounts of points. I assign points primarily based on completion and effort and also provide brief written feedback for each student. I have my students turn in badges in Moodle, which makes feedback more streamlined.
This is an activity designed to introduce general chemistry students to reading the chemistry literature by familiarizing them with the structure of a published article. The activity first presents an article from the Whitesides group at Harvard about writing a scientific manuscript, along with a video about the peer-review process. There are two parts to the questions in the activity, which are based on a specific article from Nature Communications (doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-08824-8). Part I is focused on the structure of the article and where to find key pieces of information. Part II encourages students to use general audience summaries in combination with the original article to best understand the science while making sure they get a complete and accurate picture of the reported work.
A student should be able to approach the chemistry literature and determine where to find:
- the authors and their affiliations;
- the main objective of the research;
- the main outcomes of the research;
- why the research is important;
- experimental details;
- supplementary figures and other information.
A student should be able to broadly evaluate the reliability of secondary summaries of scientific articles by comparing them against the key points of the original paper.
This activity is based on a specific article: "Room temperature CO2 reduction to solid carbon species on liquid metals featuring atomically thin ceria interfaces" (Nat. Commun., 2019, 10, 865. doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-08824-8). However, it's easily adapted to other articles that are more suited to a particular course, and I've used other articles in previous iterations. This article was chosen because the content is at least partly accessible to students in my second semester general chemistry course, who have already had some electrochemistry/redox chemistry, and who have recently learned about kinetics, reaction mechanisms, and catalysis. The topic of liquid metals is new and interesting to the students, because it's not something the'd normally be exposed to, and the application to CO2 sequestration is something they can connect with.
When I do this correctly, the students don't accidentally see something which may make immature students giggle.
I have had multiple colleagues tell me that this technique worked for them and saved them from repeating an embarassing classroom event.
The instructor will draw the bonding MO of dihydrogen without accidentally causing laughter in the class or self embarassment.
chalkboard or whiteboard
ability to adjust quickly just in case
I have come close to accidentally drawing the incorrect version of this diagram and I am able to stop myself quickly as illustrated in the instructions.
This is a collection of LOs that I used to teach a junior-senior seminar course on organometallics during Fall 2018 at Harvey Mudd College. There were a total of 9 students in the course. The Junior student (there was only one this year) was taking 2nd semester organic concurrently and had not takein inorganic (as is typical).
During our first fellows workshop, the first cohort of VIPEr fellows pulled together learning objects that they've used and liked or want to try the next time they teach their inorganic courses.