Classroom Resources: Atomic Structure


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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

    Activity: Simulation Activity: 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 | Middle School, High 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 | Elementary School, Middle 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 | Elementary School, 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 | Middle School, High 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.

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