Classroom Resources: Atomic Structure


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

  • Physical Properties, History, Periodic Table, Model of the Atom, Atomic Theory, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles, Chemical Properties, Atomic Number | High School, Middle School, Elementary School

    Activity: Mendeleev Video Questions

    In this activity, students will watch a video and answer questions about Dimitri Mendeleev. They will learn about his contribution to chemistry, including his organization of the periodic table and awareness to leave gaps for elements that weren’t yet discovered.

  • Physical Properties, History, Periodic Table, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles, Chemical Properties | High School, Middle School, Elementary School

    Activity: History of the Periodic Table Video Questions

    In this activity, students will answer questions while watching a video about how the periodic table was developed and learn about those who contributed to it.

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

    Activity: Neils Bohr Video Questions

    In this activity, students will answer questions while watching a video about Niels Bohr and learn how he redefined thinking about the atom and the electron. His model of the atom advanced our understanding of subatomic particles and holds an important place in the history and development of atomic theory.

  • History, Model of the Atom, Radiation, Half Lives, Subatomic Particles, Radioactive Isotopes | High School, Middle School

    Activity: Marie Curie Video Questions

    In this activity, students will watch a short video and learn about Marie Curie, her Nobel Prizes, radiation experiments, and discovery of new elements.

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

    Activity: Ernest Rutherford Video Questions

    In this activity, students will watch a video about Ernest Rutherford. They will learn about his great contributions to chemistry, including his study of alpha particles and his use of the gold foil experiment. They will also find out that he won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his studies on radioactive substances.

  • Isotopes, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles | High School, Middle School

    Activity: Candy Isotopes & Atomic Mass

    In this activity, students will learn about isotopes and be introduced to basic average atomic mass calculations. They will use simple numbers and M&M candies to model ratios that approximate real world atomic mass values on the periodic table.

  • Electromagnetic Spectrum, Emission Spectrum | Middle School

    Lesson Plan: Understanding Light & Color

    In this lesson students use spectroscopes to analyze the colors of sunlight reflected off a white surface, and determine various colors of light emitted by a multicolor LED bulb at different color settings. They predict what color an object will appear when observed under a certain color of light, and test their predictions with the LED bulb. Students explore how a color wheel can provide a useful model for determining the colors of light an object may absorb or reflect. Finally, students will investigate the color yellow. Many objects that appear yellow are not reflecting yellow light, but reflecting green and red. Students use their spectroscopes to search for objects that truly reflect yellow light.

  • History, Radiation, Pros Cons of Nuclear Power, Atomic Theory, Subatomic Particles, Radioactive Isotopes | High School, Middle School

    Activity: Lise Meitner Video Questions

    In this activity, students will complete a short series of questions as they watch the Founders of Chemistry video about Lise Meitner. The video tells the story of Lise Meitner, a pioneering female scientist in the field of nuclear chemistry, who was denied a Nobel Prize but has an Element named in her honor.

  • Emission Spectrum, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Emission Spectrum, Electrons | High School, Middle School

    Lesson Plan: Let it Glow

    In this lesson students will investigate the fluorescence of a variety of everyday items as well as prepared samples under a black light. Students will examine the concepts of absorption and subsequent emission of photons, as well as wavelength, frequency, and energy of electromagnetic radiation. As extension activities, students will learn about phosphorescence and research real-life applications of photoluminescence.

  • History, Atoms, Radiation, Pros Cons of Nuclear Power, Atomic Theory, Radioactive Isotopes | High School, Middle School

    Video: Lise Meitner Video

    This video tells the story of Lise Meitner, a pioneering female scientist in the field of nuclear chemistry, who was denied a Nobel Prize but has an Element named in her honor.

  • Elements, History, Periodic Table, Covalent Bonding, Ionic Bonding, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles | High School, Middle School

    Project: Exploring Elements

    In this project, students will select an element and then use Ptable.com to explore aspects of the element including its periodicity, electron configuration, history, and uses in industry.

  • Isotopes, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles | High School, Middle School

    Simulation: Isotopes & Calculating Average Atomic Mass

    In this simulation, students first learn how the average atomic mass is determined through a tutorial based on the isotope abundance for Carbon. Students will then interact within a workspace where they will select the number of isotopes, the mass of each isotope as well as their abundancies in order to successfully build a mystery element. Finally they will use their choices to calculate the average atomic mass of the mystery element.

  • Molecular Structure , Subatomic Particles, Photosynthesis | Middle School

    Lesson Plan: Carbon, Carbon Everywhere

    In this lesson, students will learn about how Carbon cycles through Earth’s systems and its importance for life on Earth.

  • Model of the Atom, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles, Electrons | High School, Middle School

    Project: Element Project

    In this project, students will become familiar with and have a workable understanding of atomic structure. The students will also create and construct a model of an atom.

  • Elements, Periodic Table, Model of the Atom, Subatomic Particles | Middle School, Elementary School

    Activity: Element Brochure

    In this activity, students will research a common element from the periodic table and create a brochure about it. Students will include information about its atomic structure, subatomic particles, Bohr model, chemical symbol, and common uses.

  • Elements, Molecular Formula, Model of the Atom, Subatomic Particles | Middle School

    Project: What's It Made Of?

    In this project each student will conduct research to discover what compounds, molecules, and elements make up a basic everyday object of their choice. The student will create a poster detailing what the object is made of, including a Bohr model. The student will also create a question about their object’s atomic structure for their peers as part of a culminating project gallery walk to observe, discuss, and learn about each poster.

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

    Lab: Investigating the Sizes of Atomic Particles

    In this lab, students will use yarn and peas to compare the sizes of the three subatomic particles and will see that most of an atom is empty space.

  • Periodic Table, Subatomic Particles | Middle School

    Project: Elemental Art: A Visual Periodic Table

    In this activity students will research an assigned element of the Periodic Table and then create a poster that visually explains and expresses the element. The final posters can be arranged into a classroom Periodic Table.

  • Interdisciplinary, Atomic Spectra, Identifying an Unknown, Emission Spectrum, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Emission Spectrum | High School, Middle School

    Lab: Spectral Detective

    In this lab, students will use a spectroscope to view the atomic spectra of various unknown elements. Using their collected data in combination with known atomic spectra, they will identify the chemical elements.

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

    Video: Niels Bohr Video

    This video tells the story of Niels Bohr, a great scientist who redefined how we think about atoms and the electron. Bohr’s model of the atom helped to advance understanding of subatomic particles, and holds an important place in the history and development of the atomic theory.

  • Model of the Atom, Subatomic Particles | High School, Middle School

    Activity: Mystery Elements

    The students will work in cooperative groups to construct Bohr models of "mystery" elements and record missing information about each element. Students will also create a new "mystery" element card for a classmate to analyze and determine its identity.

  • Periodic Table, Model of the Atom | Middle School, High School

    Lab: Sweet Model of the Atom

    In this lesson, students will use different candies to represent electrons, protons, and neutrons to gain a better understanding of atoms, ions, and isotopes.

  • Periodic Table, Model of the Atom, Subatomic Particles, Atomic Radius, Ionic Radius, Electrons | High School, Middle School, Elementary School

    Animation: Atomic & Ionic Radii Animation

    In this animation, students will have an opportunity to visualize atomic and ionic radii. They will look at the different sizes of atoms in the third period and the atoms in the sixth group. They will also look at an atom and its cation as well as an atom and its anion.

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

    Video: Ernest Rutherford Video

    Rutherford's initial research was studying alpha particles, which he hypothesized were helium nuclei. With the help of Hans Geiger, Rutherford conducted the gold foil experiment, which justifies that the nucleus of an atom is a dense collection of protons and contains the majority of an atom’s mass. It also inferred that most of the atom is empty space and electrons are not located in the nucleus. He won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1908 for his studies on radioactive substances.

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