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3DMolSym (Molecular Symmetry)
Developed by Nickolas D. Charistos,
Scientific supervisors: Michael P. Sigalas, Constantinos A. Tsipis
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki - Greece
Downloadable material
Modelling, Self-learning
Fundamental Chemistry
Upper Secondary School
Prerequisites: The application uses the Macromedia Shockwave plug-in and has been designed and developed especially for the Web. It has a simple graphical user interface and requires a download of only 244 KB, allowing it to be used even with low bandwidth Internet connections. Its performance is comparable to a desktop application. 3DMolSym requires Windows XP, 2000, ME, or 98. A 3-D accelerator such as DirectX 7.0 (recommended) or OpenGL is suggested, but not required. The Shockwave Player needs to be already installed.

Contents – Task Description: 3DMolSym is a Web educational program designed to visualize the symmetry elements of molecules and to animate the corresponding symmetry operations in an interactive 3D environment.
3DMolSym includes a database with symmetry and geometry data of 48 organic and inorganic molecules, corresponding to all point groups of chemical interest. The user can search the database via the Graphical User Interface and filter the molecules by their symmetry elements or point group. The user can also filter the symmetry elements of a selected molecule by their type or by their order. In summary, with 3DMolSym you can:
• Display any combination of the symmetry elements of a selected molecule.
• Perform any symmetry operation of a selected molecule.
• Adjust the speed and pause the animation of a symmetry operation.
• Display a molecule in Ball n' Stick, Wireframe, Sticks or Space Filling format.
• Rotate, translate and zoom a molecule to any viewpoint.
• Store and recall 4 preferred view points.

Aims: This teaching resource aims at encouraging self-learning by enhancing the motivation to learn chemistry. The material is presented in a user-friendly and easy-to-follow manner which is aimed to help chemistry students conceive the symmetry properties of the molecular structure.

Use in class: The tasks to be performed by the students are described in a clear way. The material is designed mainly for use by the students themselves for self-learning and self-evaluation. The teacher can incorporate the teaching resource in the class practice via the use of an interactive blackboard, in order to stimulate discussion which will eventually lead to the acquisition of new knowledge.
This teaching resource is designed in a user-friendly manner and provides a convenient way to visualize the symmetry elements of molecules and to animate the corresponding symmetry operations in an interactive 3D environment. It will help students learn molecular geometry, symmetry operations (from the most basic to the most complex) and point groups. It can also be used to review hybridizations and angles. This interactive application can have a significant effect in motivating students to explore and visualize the world of chemistry. The material is scientifically reliable. The resource can be used as an excellent tool for introducing the student to the visualization of chemistry.
TEI of Ionian Islands

Comments about this Publication

Your comments are welcome

Date: 2014.11.30

Posted by Mariusz Jarocki (Poland)

Message: 1. Is the teaching resource described useful for you? Why?
The program demonstrates symmetry elements of molecules in very attractive visual form. The material is designed rather for self-learning, but it can be also used during traditional lessons. I can easily imagine a discussion inspired by the animations generated by the tool.

2. Do you think it can increase the students’ interest toward chemistry? Why?
As supplementary, of course. The tool has some advantages in relation to other visualization software, f.e. it allows to display a molecule in Ball n\' Stick, Wireframe, Sticks or Space Filling format. Provided interaction can have a significant effect in motivating students to explore chemistry.

3. Do you think it can help the students to understand better and faster? Why?
Yes, possibilities of free three-dimensional manipulations of models can help with it without any objections, allowing a user to analyse it a visual manner. The material is presented in a user-friendly and easy-to-follow manner which is aimed to help chemistry students conceive the symmetry properties of the molecular structure faster than other, especially traditional, methods. It can also be used to review hybridizations and angles.

4. Do you think it propose an innovative didactic approach? Why?
It is hard to treat the tool as the main one in didactic process, it\'s rather some kind of support. I suppose we can tell about some innovation only in the context of greater methodology which uses the tool as one of many others.

Date: 2013.02.02

Posted by Katarína Javorová (Slovakia)

Message: It is very interesting and simple learning resource showing how a molecule vibrates and properties of common types of vibrations in 3D. By this we can also watch molecules in their normal regime, we can turn them or zoom them. It is a demonstration of vibrating regimes at chosen organic molecules and it also shows their arrangement at simplified Roman’s model and infrared spectrum. It also warns us whether the regime is active or not. This visual picture can help students to orientate faster in infrared or Roman’s spectrum. The system allows us watching from each angle, to change length of movement of atoms which allows students to choose any molecules which makes the program more interesting. This supports self-education and motivation of students. The program can be easily downloaded and allows students to get more information about molecular vibration. At the same time it is good for teachers from the point of didactic approach to students in given area.

Date: 2012.10.03

Posted by Mehmet Polak KALAK (Turkey)

Message: This site includes an education program which is called “3DMolSym”. The program offers the opportunity to study the elements in chemistry three-dimensionally. İt is based on Modelling, Self-learning approaches. İt is useful for student because they reach easily the program at this site and can download the program their computers. it is also very well-equipped in terms of content. . İt contains symmetry and geometry data of 48 organic and inorganic molecules.
The chemistry students can rotate the molecules in a range of any angle and they can take view point 4 units of each molecule, which can be rotated at different angles too.They teachs molecular structure and symmetry of elements effectively. This teaching resource helps the chemistry student to enhance the motivation of themselves against the three dimensional chemistry and provides opportunities like self-learning and self-evaluation. This program helps the student to use the ability to think in three dimensional swiftly. Additionally, in terms of visualization of molecules in this program will be guided by the teacher and demostrate what is necessary.The most crucial advantage of this program is that it presents a lot of information about any explored molecule in any aspect.

Date: 2012.10.02

Posted by Luísa Maria Fernandes (Portugal)

I think this resource has potential, in particular to be used in the 12th grade chemistry lessons. The resource allows you to view several molecules in a 3D model, with the possibility of visualising them from various angles. The most valuable characteristics of this resource are: the possibility to visualize the symmetry properties of the structure of many molecules (in which several possible elements of symmetry can be selected) and the visualization of molecules that are difficult to build with the models of molecules available in schools. It also allows the capture of different views (up to four) so that they can be more easily compared.
I think that one can explore it with relative ease but, for those who have more difficulty, it contains an effective help mode.

However, I have encountered some difficulties: the very small screen (at least on my PC, and I could not find a way to increase it) which difficults the view and use of the various options; by pressing the "play" button without having done the selection of the elements of symmetry, the program stops responding, not allowing you to select any element of symmetry nor, even, another molecule, being necessary to load the program again!

Date: 2012.09.27

Posted by Ciara O'Driscoll (Ireland)

Message: This teaching resource is useful for students taking the Irish Leaving Certificate Chemistry because it allows the student to visualise a large selection if molecular structures in 3D. The student can rotate the molecules also and visualise the molecule from a range of angles. Four ‘capture views’ can be taken of each molecule, which can be rotated at different angles. Students could be set the task of taking a ‘screen grab’ of the screen and save a selection of molecules that are required for the course. There is also a vast range of compounds that students can explore that may be relevant to the course.
There is a lot of information available on the symmetry of each molecule. Much of this information is outside of the scope of the Irish Leaving Cert Course, however it would be useful for the teacher to demonstrate what is needed and give the opportunity to explore beyond the boundaries of the course, which may give fuller understanding.
This resource should interest students, as it’s easy to use, quick and clear. It may encourage students to explore molecules deeper and also lead to comparisons between symmetric and asymmetric molecules, which would then lead nicely to polar and non-polar molecules. For the Leaving Certificate we look at planar and non-planar molecules and this programme would be excellent in demonstrating the difference.
Being able to view and manipulate the molecules in 3D should help the student to learn more efficiently about structures and symmetry. Being able to highlight the symmetry of the molecules and take images will also aid understanding. This teaching resource should encourage self-learning by enhancing the motivation to learn chemistry through the use of 3D manipulation.

This approach to teaching molecular structure and symmetry could be very effective as it’s not only a tool for the teacher to use but also very accessible for the student. It’s easy to download and quick to use. Students will benefit from using software to visualised molecules in 3D. Their understanding should be enriched by using this software with teacher instruction followed by a chance for extension work to encourage self - learning.

National Reports on successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry The national reports on chemistry successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry are now available on the related section of the project portal. The reports presents examples of successful experiences in the partner countries and the results of testing of ICT resources with science teachers.