In this lesson, students will differentiate between energy levels, sublevels, orbitals, and electrons. Students often confuse these terms related to electrons and this activity should help them develop a stronger understanding of how to distinguish between them.
This activity will help prepare your students to meet the performance expectations in the following standards:
- HS-PS1-1: Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.
- Scientific and Engineering Practices:
- Developing and Using Models
By the end of this lesson, students should be able to:
- Distinguish between energy levels, sublevels, orbitals, and electrons.
- Use the periodic table to determine how many electrons in an element are in particular sublevels and energy levels.
- Identify the shape of the s, p, and d orbitals.
This lesson supports students’ understanding of:
- Electron configurations
Teacher Preparation: minimal
Lesson: 30 minutes
- Student activity sheet (per student)
- No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.
- Students should be somewhat familiar with orbitals and electron configurations prior to this activity.
- It would be beneficial to have students check their answers every so often, as they frequently confuse orbitals, sublevels, and energy levels. They will likely make mistakes early on and it’s best to catch them before they complete too much of the worksheet.
- This activity could accompany the Orbitals animation. It could also link to a discussion of electron configurations and this Electron Configuration resource, and quantum numbers, which could be accompanied by this Quantum Numbers resource.
For the Student
Define the following terms relating to electrons in atoms:
b. Energy level:
Answer the following questions about electrons:
- What symbol represents the principal energy level?
- What are the four possible sublevels an electron can occupy?
- How many individual orbitals are in each of the four sublevels from #2?
- Each of the pictures below represents an s, p, or d orbital. Circle the appropriate letter for each picture. Letters can be used more than once.
- How many electrons can fit in an individual orbital?
- What sublevels are available in n = 1? n = 2? n = 3? n = 4? n = 5?
- Circle the orbitals below that do not exist.
- How many total orbitals are in n = 3?
- How many electrons can fit in n = 3?
- How many electrons can fit in all the orbitals on n = 2? n = 5?
- How many total orbitals are present in p and d sublevels? Combined, how many electrons can they hold?
- What is the maximum number of electrons that can fit in 3p? 4f?
- Write the complete electron configuration for Silicon.
- What is the highest energy level that contains electrons? This is called the highest occupied energy level.
- What is the highest occupied sublevel in that atom? How many electrons does it contain?
- What is the highest energy level that is completely filled?
- Write the complete electron configuration for Arsenic:
- What is the highest occupied energy level in that atom? How many electrons does it contain?
- What is the highest occupied sublevel in that atom? How many electrons are in that sublevel?
- What is the last sublevel that is filled with the maximum possible number of electrons?