Searching the database using the "shapes" search option is a great way to have students learn to recognize the basic molecular shapes.

There are over 50 shapes to choose from in the full database, so we recommend using the "entry level" data base, which only includes the six basic shapes: diatomic, linear, bent, trigonal planar, trigonal pyramidal, and tetrahedral.

We suggest exploring the database yourself first and then possibly picking out some of the structures you especially like to show the class or to ask the students to look at in particular.

Suggested Activity #1 Have students do explorations on their own to become familiar with the shapes. (Suggest that they click "entry level" at the top, and then "Pick All" and "Display List" to see a list of molecules that fit the criteria.)

You can help them get a feel for the approximate angles between atoms that are associated with the various shapes by having them make a table associating bond angles with molecular shapes.

Suggested Activity #2 Students can use the pdf files, which are the Molecular Origami patterns for the molecules, to make a physical model at home or in the classroom. Our experience is that no matter how good the digital technology is, sometimes there is simply no substitute for having a touchable 3-dimensional model. Molecular Origami Home Page

Suggested Activity #3

A fun activity to make sure students are really comfortable with the basic shapes is to have them look at larger molecules (from the "cool shapes" subset) and identify all the basic shapes that make up that molecule (except for the central atom, perhaps). This is sort of a "Where's Waldo?" activity. Some of our favorites include: