The Quantum Mechanics Concept Builder is an adjustable-size file that displays nicely on smart phones, on tablets such as the iPad, on Chromebooks, and on laptops and desktops. The size of the Concept Builder can be scaled to fit the device that it is displayed on. The compatibility with smart phones, iPads, other tablets, and Chromebooks make it a perfect tool for use in a 1:1 classroom.


Teaching Ideas and Suggestions:

Most of us who teach a high school Chemistry course will have a unit on atomic structure and will likely emphasize the modern quantum mechanical model of the atom. For us, that means we discuss the four types of orbitals, perhaps show diagrams of them with their various spatial orientation, discuss their energy levels and sublevels, discuss how they become filled with electrons, and relate the resulting electron configuration to the organization of elements on the Periodic Table.  Most of us shy away from quantum numbers. But those who don't will typically mention or discuss the connection between the quantum numbers and the orbtial size, shape, and orientation and mention or briefly discuss the rules for allowed quantum number values. For those who spend time on quantum numbers as described in the previous sentence, Activity 1 and Activity 2 will be of great value. And for all of us, Activity 3 will be of great value and excellent pre-cursor to the development of orbital filling and electron configuration. (A separate elecron configuration Concept Builder is also available.)

The Quantum Mechanics Concept Builder consists of 32 Questions organized into 12 Question Groups and spread across three activities. The first activity is a Matching Pairs activity in which a student is presented 8 terms or statements on a grid and must match the terms or statements with one another. There are two sets of Matching Pair grids.  The Concept Builder scrambles the arrangement of ideas within the Matching Pairs grid. Otherwise, all students will have the same set of terms. The second activity is called Law Breakers. Students are presented with three sets of quantum numbers and must identify any set that violates the rules for allowed quantum number values. The third activity is titled Two Truths and One Lieand presents three statements regarding atomic orbitals. Students must identify the statement that is false. For the second and third activity, students are selected a question at random from each Question Group. The order in which the Question Group is presented to the student is also randomzied. It is unlikely that two side-by-side students will have the same experience.Teachers are encouraged to do the Concept Builder or view the questions in order to judge which activities are most appropriate for their classes. 

In order to complete any of the activities, learners must answer one question from each Question Group. In Activity 1 (Matching Pairs), a mis-matched pair will result in the re-starting of the activity with a new arangement of the same terms on the grid. This forces a good deal of concentration on students' part as they seek to remember which terms were successfully paired and unsuccessfully paired on previous attempts. In Activity 2 and Activity 3, a color code and star system is used. If a Question is missed, the Question Group will be colored red, indicating that two consecutive questionsfrom that Question Group must be answered correctly before earning the star for that Question Group. This strategy provides students additional practice on their most troublesome questions. Help is provided for each activity. When used with Task Tracker, the activity can be assigned as in-class or out-of-class work and student progress can be tracked in our Task Tracker database. 


Getting Help:

The most valuable (and most overlooked) aspect of this Concept Builder is the Help Me! feature. Each question group is accompanied by a Help page that discusses the specifics of the question. This Help feature transforms the activity from a question-answering activity into a concept-building activity. The student who takes the time to use the Help pages can be transformed from a guesser to a learner and from an unsure student to a confident student. The "meat and potatoes" of the Help pages are in the sections titled "How to Think About This Situation:" Students need to be encouraged by teachers to use the Help Me! button and to read this section of the page. A student that takes time to reflect upon how they are answering the question and how an expert would think about the situation can transform their naivete into expertise.