Building Crystal Structure Ball Models Using Pre-Drilled Templates: Sheet Structures, Tridymite, and Cristobalite

Kurt Hollocher
,
Union College
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Summary

Ball models have long been used as teaching tools in Mineralogy to illustrate molecular and crystal structures. At Union College, Mineralogy students construct crystal structure ball models to help them better understand the concepts of crystalline order, relative atomic size, atomic coordination, crystal chemistry, and crystal symmetry.

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Context

Audience

This activity is designed for an undergraduate required course in mineralogy and is generally for sophomore or junior level students.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students should have a basic understanding of crystalline order, relative atomic size, atomic coordination, crystal chemistry, and crystal symmetry. This exercise serves to improve understanding of these concepts.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity is a stand-alone exercise, but is part of a larger volume of classroom and laboratory activities from "Teaching Mineralogy," a workbook published by the Mineralogical Society of America, Brady, J., Mogk, D. W., and Perkins, D., (editors), 1997,406 pp.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

This activity is designed to improve students' understanding of crystalline order, relative atomic size, atomic coordination, crystal chemistry, and crystal symmetry through the use of structure ball models.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

This activity helps students visualize crystal structures using models.

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

This activity involves building crystal structure ball models in order to strengthen students' understanding of crystalline order, relative atomic size, atomic coordination, crystal chemistry, and crystal symmetry.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students have met the goals of this activity if they demonstrate an increased understanding of crystal structures.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Brady, J., Mogk, D. W., and Perkins, D., (editors), 1997, Teaching Mineralogy, a workbook published by the Mineralogical Society of America, 406 pp.

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