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Peer Review


by Nickolas Charistos , Michael Sigalas


Overall Numeric Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Aug 06, 2008 by Chemistry Editorial Board
Overview: "An educational program designed to visualize the symmetry elements of molecules and to animate the corresponding symmetry operations in an interactive 3D environment." -from 3DMolSym

A list of molecules is presented from which the user may choose to then view the molecules point group or symmetry element. Every single concept associated with visualizing molecular symmetry is then readily available through what is arguably one of best interactive applets available in physical chemistry.
Type of Material: Animation, simulation, tutorial and lecture.
Recommended Uses: 1. Use in class to demonstrate the all concepts related to molecular symmetry

2. Use as homework to allow the student to become more familiar with symmetry

3. Use for self-directed study to more clearly visualize point groups or symmetry operations that are sometimes very abstract if using normal molecular models
Technical Requirements: Shockwave player plug-in is required
Identify Major Learning Goals: This site 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. From an organic chemistry perspective it can also be used to teach Newmann projections.
Target Student Population: Any student who is learning about molecular symmetry elements in any chemistry discipline will benefit enormously from using this site. This includes all levels from general chemistry students learning geometry and symmetry to graduate level students reviewing and further studying symmetry operation and point groups.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: 1. Students should know how to draw Lewis structures and the context of the discussion surrounding the use of this applet should included symmetry elements.

2. Although some computer experience is needed, the program is very user friendly and instinctive. All buttons are clearly labeled.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: 1. The purpose of the site is to enable the student to understand what symmetry operations are all about. This job uses the power of the internet and skillful script, VRML, and shockwave programming in a remarkable and carefully integrated fashion to teach the student all that needs to be understood about the 3-D aspects of symmetry elements.

2. With 48 molecules to work with, there is plenty of material to satisfy general, inorganic and organic courses. The program also shows all possible symmetry elements and point groups for the chosen molecule so that the student will not miss any operation.
Concerns: Absolutely none

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: 1. The program is very well organized and labeled. The information panel gives the name, structure, chemical formula and symmetry elements. The program will also perform any chosen symmetry operation in slow or fast motion. The molecule can be rotated by using the controls provided on the left side of the screen or simply by moving the mouse over the molecule. It even takes snapshots of views so that it is easier to go back to them.

2. This is THE site that should be used by all physical chemistry, spectroscopy, and analytical spectroscopy teachers when discussing the topics of molecular symmetry and point groups. The visualization is spectacular. Every conceivable option has been thought of.
Concerns: None

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This site has been extremely well laid out and groomed. Every desire of the end user seems to have been thought about and attended to. Button are clearly labeled and function control is intuitive and easy.
Concerns: The disadvantage of requiring a Shockwave download is vastly outweighed by the powerful capability of this site being made available to the chemistry community.

Other Issues and Comments: It would be terrific if this applet had an extension by which the end user was able to decompose the point group into the effective normal modes of vibration which could then also be visualized. That is an enormous amount of work but this site is at the gold standard level, so why not ask for even more from this team who are obviously leaders in the field of computer animation.

Be sure to check out Molwave's companion site 3DNormalModes. It provides a convenient way to illustrate how a molecule vibrates and the properties of its normal modes of vibration in a real 3D environment. Again an excellent learning tool.