23 May 2014

A Review of 3DMolSym: A Web Resource for Teaching Molecular Symmetry

Web Resources and Apps

Submitted by Marion E. Cass, Carleton College

Introducing you to 3DMolSym:  A Web Resource for Teaching Molecular Symmetry that uses Adobe Shockwave for Visualizations and Animations.

Note there is a slight difference when operating this resource on a Mac or in a Windows Operating Systerm.  On a Mac if you don't change an item (any item) in the pull down menu on the right when the resouce opens, the selection of molecules will be frame shifted by one molecule.  An easy fix is described in the Description below.

Learning Goals: 


Working with this web-based resource

  1. Students should be able to visualize symmetry elements and operations.
  2. The beauty of molecular symmetry can be further appreciated with this tool.


Evaluation Methods: 



To date, I can share only anecdotal evidence that when using web based tools for visualizing symmetry that students are more capable of assigning point groups.  In the past, providing students with models was useful, but in complex models, the molecular symmetry can easily be accidentally altered.  I find the web-based materials allow the students to work on the problems until they feel comfortable.  They can perform operations from many orientations and benefit from examples provided.  I test the students skills with a different site (developed in 2005 and also reviewed in J. Chem. Educ.; Vol 82, p. 1742) :  Rzepa and Cass:  An Interactive Animated Overview of Molecular Symmetry: http://www.ch.ic.ac.uk/local/symmetry/) that give students some tools for testing rotational axes WITHOUT giving them the answer.

Creative Commons License: 
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