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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 21 (2016) pp 162-165

A Hands-On, Cooperative Learning, Guided-Discovery Exercise using 3D Potential Energy Surface Models to Enhance Student Understanding of Conformational Energies

Felix A. Carroll* and David N. Blauch

Department of Chemistry, Davidson College, Davidson, NC USA 28035,
Received May 30, 2016. Accepted July 27, 2016.

Published: 17 August 2016

Abstract. We used 3D printing to create a series of potential energy surface models in which two axes represent geometric coordinates for butane or propane and the third axis represents the relative potential energies associated with those coordinates. These models are the basis for a hands-on, cooperative learning, and guided-discovery exercise in conformational analysis for students in introductory organic chemistry.

Key Words: Computers in Chemistry; organic chemistry; hands-on activity; cooperative learning; guided-discovery learning; 3D printing; potential energy surface; conformational analysis; molecular mechanics; steric energy; complementary models

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (160 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

Description of 3D model preparation, STL files for the models, templates for the learning activity, student instructions for the activity, and additional photos of the 3D models. (629 KB)

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