June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
This paper presents and discusses an interactive classroom activity on visualizing the atomic arrangement of common crystal structures and planes. This two-part module is built upon the ICAP framework, with students first completing an individual constructive activity, where they mentally visualize and manipulate crystal structures. The second part is an interactive activity in which students work together to view and manipulate crystal structures using OVITO, an open-source software tool. At the end of the exercise, students evaluate their previous individual work using the solutions from the group. This lesson both challenges students to synthesize information about crystal structures and introduces them to a visualization tool used by researchers. The module was pilot-tested in a fifty-minute lecture of an introductory materials science course at a large research institution. Students downloaded and ran the software on their personal computers, which most students found to be reasonable. Students perceived this activity to be useful and educational, and preliminary results indicate that the activity supported student learning. Samples of student work are included to illustrate misconceptions that were identified and corrected during the activity. All of the resources for this activity are shared publicly to support other faculty in their curricular innovations.
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