Bioinorganic chemistry

15 May 2020

Inorganic Active Learning Lesson Plan Design

Submitted by Meghan Porter, Indiana University
Evaluation Methods: 

I use the rubric provided, combined with the peer review feedback (due to COVID, they did not have the chance to revise after the peer review process).  Students must also upload a key with their activity which allows me to catch any misconceptions or inaccuracies in their understanding of the material.

I assigned points as following:

Assignment/Key: See above rubric

Reflection: Worth 5 points total- while mostly graded on completion, I did want to be sure my students were providing more useful feedback than 1 word answers so I gave them the rubric below. (pretty much everyone got a 5)

Completed Reflection




What did you learn from completing this assignment? (i.e. What do you feel that you gained from completing it?)

What did you learn from completing other students' assignments?

What are your thoughts for improving the active learning lesson plan assignment in future iterations?  You may answer this referring to your specific lesson plan or this actual assignment of creating a lesson plan.


Meets all criteria at a high level, all questions are thoughtfully addressed

Meets some criteria, some questions are not addressed or non-thoughtful response provided

Meets few criteria, most questions not addressed or responses do not demonstrate thought

Peer Review: Spring 2020 was my first time doing the peer review, and of course covid definitely changed the way I had planned on completing it.  My plan was to have them exchange activities in class or in recitation, work through them in small groups, then be able to provide feedback.  Instead, they had to complete it online and provide feedback- I gave them the basic rubic, but changed the scores to categories of "exceeds expectations", "meets expectations", and "does not meet expectations".

Evaluation Results: 

I am always blown away by the creativity of my students!  While some students submit more group worksheet activities, I have had plenty come up with games, relays, building/using playdough, etc...

Students usually report that they thought they knew a topic- only to begin making an activity and realize they didn't understand it as well as they thought they did.  However, by the time the submitted their activity, they felt like they gained a much more in-depth understanding.  They also loved getting to complete other students' assignments this semester.  Their feedback indicated that they felt it was a great way to review, but also get some insight into how their peers think differently about topics.

Side note: Personally, I love seeing how many students tell me afterward that they have a newfound respect for professors after trying to make their own activity! :-)


I created this activity as a way to get the class involved in creating new, fun ways to teach course concepts (selfishly- that part is for me) and for students to review concepts prior to the final exam (for them).  Students use a template to create a 15-20 min activity that can be used in groups during class to teach a concept we have learned during the semester.  We then randomly assign the activities and students work in groups to complete them and provide feedback.

The benefits are twofold:

1. My class is about 100-150 students per semester.  This means that each semester I have a large number of new activities (that I didn't have to make!) to use as a starting point in future semesters as I work to create a more active classroom.

2. The students get a review of the topic they have chosen for their activity, plus, they get to review additional topics from completing and providing feedback on two activities from their peers.

I have run this assignment for three semesters now.  It has been a favorite of my students since the beginning!  I have received a number of activities that I now use in class to teach topics!

Learning Goals: 

A student should be able to

  • Create a lesson plan on an inorganic topic that incorporates active learning
  • Demonstrate understanding of chosen topic via an accurate lesson plan key
  • Review multiple inorganic topics through completion of lesson plans from classmates
  • Provide constructive feedback on classmates’ completed lesson plans


Equipment needs: 


Implementation Notes: 

Since this can be used for any level or any topic, there are plenty of variations you can try!  Some things to consider:

1. You can allow students to select any topic from the entire semester for their activity- this can be helpful prior to a final exam when you want a comprehensive review.  You can also restrict topics if you have areas that you feel your students need to focus on or if you want to assign this before a specific exam.  One of my students also suggested having a sign up sheet for topics on a first-come, first-served basis so that you don't end up with 20 balancing redox reactions and zero crystal field splitting.

2. I have tried students designing plans individually and also working in partners to create acitivties (both outside of class).  Both methods worked well, but in a class of 150, that many individual submissions to grade was a bit overwhelming!

3. The peer review was new this semester (based on a previous student suggestion).  My original plan was have them use a recitation section to work in groups through randomly assgined activities.  Due to COVID, they completed the activites on their own- they enjoyed it, but the group experience would ave been more fun.

4. Depending on your timing, you could have them go through the peer review process and then give them a chance to revise the activity based on the feedback prior to you grading it.

5. The student reflection questions are given as a survey on Canvas after they have completed both the lesson plan and the peer review process.

19 Mar 2020

Online Seminar Talks

Submitted by Amanda Reig, Ursinus College
Evaluation Methods: 

Student summaries are simply graded as complete/incomplete and are checked to see that they did in fact watch the video. If student summaries are felt to be lacking substance or incomplete, we will indicate areas they can improve on future summary reports.


In an attempt to find a substitute for our chemistry seminar program, I have found a number of YouTube videos of chemists giving seminar lectures, mostly between 2017-2020. The topics span a range of chemistry disciplines, and are all around 1 hour in length (typical seminar length).  I have not watched them, so I cannot vouch for video quality. Feel free to add additional links in the comments below if you know of or find any great talks.

We will ask students to select and watch a certain number of lectures from the list and then write and submit a one-page summary of the talk.

Course Level: 
Learning Goals: 

A student should be able to summarize the key points of a lecture presented by a seminar speaker.

Time Required: 
1 hour
20 Feb 2020

Cisplatin and Anticancer Therapy: The Role of Chemical Equilibrium

Submitted by Jack F Eichler, University of California, Riverside
Evaluation Methods: 

1) Performance on the pre-lecture online quiz

2) Performance on the in-class activity (clicker scores or hand-graded worksheet)

Evaluation Results: 

Students generally score on average 70% or higher on the pre-lecture quiz, and on average 70% or more of students correctly answer the in-class clicker questions. 


This is a flipped classroom module that covers the concept of dynamic equilibrium, and how dynamic equlibrium plays a role in the anticancer mechanism of the therapeutic cisplatin.This activity is designed to be done at the end of the typical second quarter/second semester general chemistry equilibrium unit. Students will be expected to have learned the following concepts prior to completing this activity:

a) understanding the concept of dynamic equilibrium;

b) understanding how equilibrium expressions are generated for chemical reactions that include aqueous solutions, gas phase reactants/products, and/or heterogeneous reactions;

c) understanding how to calculate the molarity of a solution and how to carry out basic stoichiometric conversions for chemical reactions.

Acknowledgement: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1504989. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.



Learning Goals: 

Students are expected to achieve the following learning objectives:

a) using ICE tables to calculate the equilibrium concentration of reactants and/or products;

b) using ICE tables and stoichiometric calculations to predict what initial concentration of reactant would be required to yield a specific concentration of product at equilibrium;

c) understanding the concept of Le Chatelier’s principle and how equilibrium reactions will respond to changes in concentration of reactant and/or product;

d) being able to calculate the reaction quotient (Q), and relating the reaction quotient to explain whether a reaction has reached dynamic equilibrium or not.

e) connecting the concept of chemical equilibrium to the real-world application of anticancer therapeutics and how the drug cisplatin imparts tumor cell death.


Topics Covered: 
Course Level: 
Implementation Notes: 

See attached instructor notes. 

Time Required: 
50-80 minutes
18 Oct 2019

Mechanisms of Mn-catalyzed water oxidation reactions

Submitted by Margaret Scheuermann, Western Washington University
Evaluation Methods: 

I did not grade this activity. 

Evaluation Results: 

Three students out of 14 explicitly mentioned that this activity was helpful on the free response section of the course evaluations.



This LO is an in-class assignment to prepare students for literature readings involving catalytic cycles in which multiple protons and electrons are transferred. Two catalytic mechanisms, a proposed OEC mechanism and the proposed mechanism of a biomimetic OEC complexes are included. The intermediates are drawn including all charges and oxidation states, details which are sometimes omitted in the primary literature but can be helpful to students who are not accustomed to looking at multistep catalytic cycles. Students are then asked to add in the substrates and products entering and leaving the catalytic cycle. While this is, at its heart, a stoichiometry excercise, it helps calibrate students for the level of attention to detail needed to effectively engage with reading about bioinorganic catalytic mechanisms.

Learning Goals: 

After completing this activity:

A student will be able to follow along with each step in  proposed water oxidation mechanims in the literature.

A student will be able to apply their knowledge of stoichiomety to complex catalytic cycles involving electron transfer.

A student will be able to analyze and compare the details of catalytic cycles.

Implementation Notes: 

I used this activity during a lab lecture before an inorganic laboratory experiment in which students would be preparing and testing an OEC mimic. The procedure we used was roughly based on a published procedure (J. Chem Ed. 2005, 82, 791) linked in web resources. 

I began the class period with a brief introduction to the chemistry of photosynthesis and where water oxidation and PSII fit in the broader picture. I then introduced the mimic that students would be preparing and the chemistry of the Oxone (R) triple salt. 

Students then worked in groups to complete this activity and discuss their structural and mechanistic observations. After the activity they were encouraged to read the papers referenced in the activity and to think about the evidence that supports the proposed mechanism.


Other implementation options:

While I used this activity as part of a lab lecture it could also be used to stimulate a discussion comparing structure/mechanism of biological and biomimetic systems in a lecture setting without the accompaning laboratory work.

This could also be modified for use as an equation balancing excercise in a majors or honors general chemistry course.

Time Required: 
10-20 minutes
9 Jun 2019

Comprehensive literature reading assignment on platinum-based anticancer agents

Submitted by Todsapon Thananatthanachon, University of Evansville

Students read two review articles and one research article on platinum-based cancer therapeutic agents.  These articles compresentively discuss various aspects of these drug agents such as discovery, synthesis, mode of function.  Students read the articles and use the knowledge on coordination chemistry (structure, reactivity, bonding, etc.) to explain the information included in the articles. 



1) Mudiyanselage,R.; Rajapakse, G.; Dunuweera, S. P. Discovery, Chemistry, Anticancer Action and Targeting of Cisplatin. International Journal of Clinical Oncology and Cancer Research, 2017, 2, 65-74.

2) Takahara, P.; Rosenzweig, A. C.; Frederick, C. A.; Lippard, S. J. Crystal structure of double-stranded DNA containing the major adduct of the anticancer drug cisplatin. Nature 1995, 377, 649-652.

3) Cai, L.; Yu, C.; Ba, L.; Liu, Q.; Qian, Y.; Yang, B.; Gao, C. Anticancer platinum-based complexes with non-classical structures. Applied Organometallic Chemistry 2018, 32, e4228.

Learning Goals: 

After completing the assignment, the students will be able to:


1. Explain the function and mechanism of platinum-based compounds as anti-cancer drugs.

2. Apply common concepts in coordination chemistry such as reaction mechanism, hard/soft acids and bases, crystal field stabilization energy, and chelating effect to explain the effectiveness of platinum-based cancer drugs.

Implementation Notes: 

The assignment has been implemented in my fundamental inorganic chemistry class for the past 2 years.  The assignment was assigned toward the end of the coordination chemistry sections as a reading assignment, which is additional to homework assignments.  Students have learned all basic concepts of coordination chemistry (structures, bonding, and reactions) by the time the assignment was assigned.  Students have two weeks to read the three articles and submit the assignment.

Time Required: 
2 weeks
8 Jun 2019

VIPEr Fellows 2019 Workshop Favorites

Submitted by Barbara Reisner, James Madison University

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.


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