Category: Best Practices in Teaching Chemistry

 

Title: Interactive Electron Configuration Tool for Chemistry

 

Presenter: Professor John Taylor

††††††††††††††††† ††††Florida State College @ Jacksonville

 

Abstract:

 

The presenter has created a HTLM/Javascript interactive web site for students to place electrons into atomic orbitals to write the complete electron configuration of an atom. The web site is found at:

http://www.fscj.me/e_config/e-1instruct.html

 

A second web site has been developed which allows the student to click on an element on the periodic chart and the complete electron configuration is shown including the spectroscopic notation. This web site is found at:

http://fscj.me/e-1Spectroscopic/pc.html

 

Full Description:

 

Chemistry software packages developed to enhance the teaching atomic theory are mostly static in nature.†† Chemistry is based on: where are the electrons in the atom? and were they are electrons missing.†† Biology faculty typically teach the satellite model of the atom suggested by Bohr in 1913 with electrons orbiting the nucleus like planets around a sun.The quantum mechanical model of the atom rejects the satellite model for a probability model.Electrons are found in sub energies levels call orbitals starting at the nucleus and occupying regions of space outside the nucleus. These orbitals are labeled s, p, d, f;named after the observed line spectra (sharp, principle, diffuse, and fine spectra lines).The orbital model demonstrates that electrons are found in pairs making the easy transition to the bonding concepts of electron pairs.The orbital diagram lines, circles or squares with arrows representing electrons. The arrows are pointing up and down to represent opposite spinning electrons.Chemistry students must be able to place the electrons in the various orbitals to discover the elementís bonding characteristic.Using the orbital model rather than the shorthand model (actually called spectroscopic notastion) which resembles mathematics (1s22s22p63s23p3 ), students have a pictorial concept (although abstract) of the electron building blocks of the atom.

 

The presenter has created an interactive web site for students to place electrons into orbitals to write the complete electron configuration of an atom. The web site is found at:

http://www.fscj.me/e_config/e-1instruct.html

 

A second web site has been developed which allows the student to click on an element on the periodic chart and the complete electron configuration is show including the spectroscopic notation. This web site is found at:

http://fscj.me/e-1Spectroscopic/pc.html

 

 

Prior to these HTML/JavaScript version, a multimedia software was used to develop an interactive electron configuration in 1992, which was later published on the Internet but required the Neuron Plug In. This software has two separate files.The first file (e_confsq.tbk) allows the student to push a button and the electrons are sequentially filled and a scrolling window displays the element represented by each electron arrangement.The filling sequence is displayed as well as the Hund` Rule of addition (half filling similar subenergy orbitals before pairing the electrons in the orbital). Special attention is taken to show the s-orbital to d-orbital shifting which occurs when there are four or nine d electrons in periods 4, 5, and 6 of the periodic table. The first screen demonstrates the first 18 elements (the first three rows of the periodic table).The next screen demonstrates the fourth row of the periodic table (elements 19-36).The third screen displays the fifth row of the periodic table (elements 37-54).The fourth screen demonstrates the six row of the periodic table, including the 4f orbitals.The orbital arrangement is then related the to periodic chart on the final two screens.

 

The second file (e_confxe.tbk)allows the student to interact with the orbital diagramby placing the electrons on the screen by right or left clicking the mouse.Electrons may be removed from the orbitals also by right and left clicking of the mouse. The student selects an element by highlightingthe element in the scrolling text field.The electrons are added to orbitals by the student, thena button is pushed to check the graphical objects on the screen.