Classroom Resources: Atomic Structure


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  • Atoms, Model of the Atom, Electron Configuration, Valence Electrons, Electrons, Orbitals , Ions | High School

    Activity: Electron Configuration and Orbital Diagrams

    In this activity, students will learn how to apply the Aufbau principle, Pauli exclusion principle, and Hund’s rule to model electron configurations and orbital diagrams. They will use colored flat marbles to represent different directional spins of electrons as they fill orbitals based on energy level. They will then look for patterns in the electron configurations and orbital diagrams of various atoms and ions.

  • Atoms, Isotopes, Subatomic Particles, Electrons, Ions | Middle School, High School

    Demonstration: Electrons and Ions Explained with Balloons

    In this demonstration, helium balloons and clothespin weights are used to demonstrate how adding an electron makes a negative ion, and removing an electron makes a positive ion, a concept that is often confusing to students.

  • Elements, Periodic Table, Review, Atomic Mass, Atomic Radius, Ionization Energy, Ions | High School

    Activity: Reviewing the Periodic Table and Periodic Trends

    In this activity, students will use their knowledge of the periodic table and periodic trends to add fictional elements to a periodic table based on their properties. Once the elements are in the correct place they will reveal a hidden message. This review activity will help students prepare for a summative assessment such as a unit test or final exam.

  • Inferences, History, Model of the Atom, Atomic Theory, Atomic Radius | Middle School, High School

    Lesson Plan: Indirectly Measuring the Atom

    In this lesson, students will try to determine the radius of one circle and the total area of multiple circles on a piece of paper by indirect measurement. They will relate this to the experiment done by Ernest Rutherford in which he bombarded a gold foil with Alpha particles.

  • Measurements, Scientific Notation, Atomic Radius | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Powers of 10 - How Small Is an Atom?

    In this activity, students will use an online interactive to investigate the size of an atom, and compare the size of the atom to other objects using scientific notation.

  • Atomic Spectra, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Electrons | High School

    Lesson Plan: Atomic Spectra for At-Home Learning

    In this lesson, students first observe a flame test demonstration conducted by their teacher, and hypothesize about the identity of an unknown sample. Then they make connections in their understanding as they are tasked with building a prism, researching about wavelengths, and creating a model of electron energy levels.

  • Conservation of Mass, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles, Law of Conservation of Energy | High School

    Activity: Building a Nuclide

    In this activity, students will construct a model of a nuclide and use this model to investigate why the mass of the nuclide is less than the summative mass of the individual nucleons (protons and neutrons). Additionally, the constructed nuclide will be used to help students conceptualize and differentiate between key lesson terminology (mass defect, strong nuclear force, and nuclear binding energy).

  • Periodic Table, Half Lives, Subatomic Particles, Radioactive Isotopes | High School

    Activity: Why are Some Isotopes Radioactive?

    In this activity, students use periodic trends and data to make predictions about what makes an isotope radioactive. They will then verify or refine their predictions using a PhET simulation.

  • Atoms, Pros Cons of Nuclear Power, Subatomic Particles, Radioactive Isotopes, Fission/Fusion | High School

    Activity: Fission vs. Fusion Reading

    In this activity, students will annotate an informational text about fission and fusion using the “text-in-the-middle” reading strategy. They will then compare and contrast the two types of nuclear reactions.

  • Measurements, Scientific Notation, Significant Figures, Subatomic Particles | High School

    Activity: Quantitatively Puzzling

    In this activity, students will analyze sixteen chemistry-based clues and use the numbers, zero through fifteen as possible answer choices for each one. The clues cover content related to measurement, scientific notation, significant digits, atomic structure and the periodic table.

  • Periodic Table, Atomic Radius, Ionization Energy, Electronegativity | High School

    Activity: Periodic War

    In this activity, students play a card game to apply their knowledge of the periodic trends of the main group elements.

  • Physical Properties, Introduction, History, Periodic Table, Valence Electrons, Chemical Properties, Electrons | Middle School, High School

    Activity: How the Periodic Table Organizes the Elements Video Questions

    In this lesson, students will watch a video and answer questions about the organization of the periodic table. They will learn about how the elements on the periodic table are organized and what their location on the table can tell us about them.

  • Introduction, Elements, History, Review, Atoms, Isotopes, Alpha/Beta/Gamma Decay, Subatomic Particles, Radioactive Isotopes, Electrons | Middle School, High School

    Activity: What are Isotopes? Video Questions

    In this lesson, students will watch a video and answer questions about isotopes. They will learn about the discovery of isotopes, the difference between chemical and nuclear reactions, different kinds of radioactive decay, and some uses of radioactive isotopes.

  • Electron Configuration, Electrons, Orbitals | High School

    Activity: Electrons and Orbitals

    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.

  • Radiation, Half Lives, Isotopes, Alpha/Beta/Gamma Decay, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles, Radioactive Isotopes | High School

    Activity: Radiological Applications of Isotopes

    In this lesson, students will apply their knowledge of nuclear notation using trading cards to investigate and discuss the applications of isotopes in the medical field. The conclusion of the activity includes a summative assessment where students must advertise the radiological services using their knowledge of isotopes and their medical applications

  • Physical Properties, Solubility, Melting Point, Naming Compounds, Molecular Formula, Ionic Bonding, Ionic Radius, Ions | High School

    Activity: My Name is Bond, Ionic Bond

    In this lesson, students will demonstrate their knowledge of ionic bond strength using a “brackets” activity. Pairs of students start the activity playing a game of “Ionic Compound War” to build eight compounds. Then then transfer the compounds to a “bracket” and use their knowledge of ionic bonding, along with a solubility chart, to predict the strongest and weakest bond between four pairs of ionic substances.

  • Physical Properties, Solubility, Melting Point, Naming Compounds, Molecular Formula, Ionic Bonding, Ionic Radius, Ions | High School

    Activity: Ionic Bonding Brackets

    In this lesson, students will demonstrate their knowledge of ionic bond strength and its relationship to the properties of melting point and solubility using a “brackets” activity. After analyzing the ionic charge and radius to predict the strongest and weakest bond between four pairs of ionic substances, they will then determine which will be the least soluble.

  • Atoms, Isotopes, Alpha/Beta/Gamma Decay, Subatomic Particles, Radioactive Isotopes | High School

    Activity: Using Stable Isotopes to Determine Material Origin

    In this lesson, students will review the concept of isotopes and apply the concepts of stability and relative abundance in order to determine the recent travels of a person of interest in a criminal investigation.

  • Density, Elements, Periodic Table, Atomic Mass, Atomic Radius, Electronegativity | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Organizing the Periodic Table

    In this activity, students are challenged to organize elements into the shape of the periodic table based on trends in data. Students are given a set of cards, each card representing an element, and containing five data points for consideration. The data that students will analyze includes atomic mass, atomic radius, melting point, density and electronegativity.

  • History, Model of the Atom, Atomic Theory, Subatomic Particles | High School

    Demonstration: The Hoopla about Atoms

    In this demonstration, students use a hula hoop that has a ball in the center (hung from a string) to simulate Rutherford’s gold foil experiment.

  • Physical Properties, Elements, History, Periodic Table, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles | High School

    Activity: Which Element Am I?

    In this activity, students will be challenged by a list of clues that describe 50 different elements from the periodic table. Using their own knowledge, or the help of the internet students will determine the identity of each element based on the clue provided.

  • Elements, Periodic Table, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Periodic Table Connect The Dots

    In this activity, students solve a series of clues about elements in order to uncover a message that has been hidden in the periodic table. Using the clues, students draw lines between identified elements on the table, which then connect to form the message. Two versions of this activity are available, varying the difficulty level of the clues.

  • Elements, Atomic Spectra, Identifying an Unknown, Emission Spectrum, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Emission Spectrum | Elementary School, Middle School

    Lesson Plan: Elements Are Out of This World

    In this lesson, students will learn about the elements that make up Earth’s atmosphere and lithosphere and then compare and contrast the information with the elements that compose various other astronomical objects.

  • Electrostatic Forces, Emission Spectrum, Electrons | High School

    Lesson Plan: Introduction to PES

    In this lesson students will learn how to interpret simple photoelectron spectroscopy spectra by incorporating their knowledge of electron configurations, periodic trends, and Coulomb’s law.

  • Atomic Spectra, Model of the Atom, Isotopes, Atomic Theory, Subatomic Particles, Emission Spectrum, Electrons, Orbitals , Ions | High School

    Lesson Plan: Atomic Structure Unit Plan

    The AACT high school classroom resource library has everything you need to put together a unit plan for your classroom: lessons, activities, labs, projects, videos, simulations, and animations. We constructed a unit plan using AACT resources that is designed to teach Atomic Structure to your students.

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