Classroom Resources: Atomic Structure


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  • Physical Properties, Atoms, Model of the Atom, Electron Configuration, Valence Electrons, Subatomic Particles, Lewis Dot Diagrams, Electrons | Middle School, High School

    Project: Atomic Holiday Ornaments

    In this project, students will design an atomic holiday ornament for a chosen element, along with a certificate of authenticity to display on a “Chemis-tree”. Students will also have the opportunity to vote on the ornaments created by their classmates.

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

    Lesson Plan: Modeling Atomic Theories with Food

    In this lesson, students will create an initial model of an atom (using various food items) drawing from the knowledge that they brought into the class. They will then use the same materials to work through an interactive note-taking lesson on how the model of the atom evolved over time. Having completed the interactive notes, the students return to their original models and adjust as needed.

  • Observations, Electricity, Atoms, Model of the Atom, Subatomic Particles, Electron Transfer, Electrons, Electrons | Middle School, High School

    Lesson Plan: Understanding Static Electricity

    In this lesson, students will complete a series of activities to explore how the imbalance of charges in materials creates static electricity and how those materials interact with others around them. They will describe the relationship between atomic structure, specifically the role of protons and electrons, and static electricity.

  • Elements, Periodic Table, Atoms, Model of the Atom, Isotopes, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles, Electrons | Middle School, High School

    Lesson Plan: Acting Out Atomic Structure

    In this lesson, students will model the location and behavior of protons, neutrons, and electrons that make up the structure of atoms, focusing on the first 18 elements on the periodic table. Students will model different elements first by adding protons and neutrons (colored balls) to make the nucleus (a basket). Then, the students themselves will represent the electrons that are always moving around the nucleus yet remaining within their designated energy level. This activity is easiest to complete outside or in a large open room to allow for enough room.

  • Atomic Spectra, Identifying an Unknown, Atomic Theory, Emission Spectrum, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Emission Spectrum, Electrons | High School

    Lab: Emissions of Light

    In this lab, students will examine three different ways to excite electrons to produce visible light found in the electromagnetic spectrum. The students will then see that this visible light has a specific color, wavelength, and frequency. They will use their knowledge of the speed of light and plank's equation to examine the energy involved in the emission of light. Finally, the students will then apply their knowledge of the emission spectrum to how the composition of stars is determined.

  • Model of the Atom, Electron Configuration, Atomic Theory, Valence Electrons, Subatomic Particles, Atomic Radius, Ionization Energy, Electrons, Orbitals | High School

    Activity: Bohr Model vs. Quantum Mechanical Model

    In this activity, students will compare two models of the atom using cognitive scaffolding to move from the more simplistic Bohr model to the more abstract and accurate quantum mechanical model. They will examine experimental data and use it to explain periodic trends that cannot be accounted for with the Bohr model.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Electrons | High School

    Lab: Determination of the Activation Energy of a Lightstick

    In this lesson students will participate in an inquiry-based lab approach to determine the activation energy of the chemiluminescent reaction in a lightstick. Students will use the Vernier LabQuest to collect data related to light and temperature for analysis using the Arrhenius equation.

  • Electrostatic Forces, Subatomic Particles, Ionization Energy, Electrons | High School

    Lesson Plan: Coulomb's Law

    In this lesson students explore qualitative applications of Coulomb’s law within atoms and between ions and solvents.

  • 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.

  • Atomic Spectra, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Electrons | High School

    Lab: Mystical Fire Investigation

    In this lab, students will create several testable questions based upon their observations of a mystical fire. Students then direct their own laboratory experience as they safely investigate these testable questions through the use of multiple flame tests.

  • Atomic Spectra, Identifying an Unknown, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Electrons | High School

    Lab: The Case of the Contaminated Well

    In this lab, students will observe the colors produced when different metal salt solutions are heated in a flame. Students will take on the role of a forensic investigator and use their results to help them determine if collected evidence was contaminated.

  • Atomic Spectra, Electromagnetic Spectrum, Electrons | High School

    Demonstration: Flame Test (Rainbow Demo)

    In this demonstration, students will observe the variety of colors produced when different metals or metallic salts are heated in a flame.

  • Precipitate, Electron Configuration, Valence Electrons, Balancing Equations, Classification of Reactions, Solubility Rules, Electrons | High School

    Lesson Plan: Transition Metals Color the World

    In this lesson students will complete a series of double replacement reactions to form precipitates. The precipitates will be used as a pigment to create paint.

  • 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.

  • Electricity, Electrostatic Forces, Metallic Bonding, Electrons | High School

    Demonstration: Metallic Bonding & Magnetics

    In this demonstration students will observe how electrons flow through a metal in an example of metallic bonding. Using tubes made of different metal materials as well as one made of plastic, in combination with a rare earth magnet (neodymium magnet) the teacher will demonstrate how electrons will flow freely through a metal and create a magnetic field.

  • 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.

  • Periodic Table, Electron Configuration, Valence Electrons, Electrons, Orbitals | High School

    Activity: Electron Configuration and the Periodic Table

    In this activity, students will learn how the periodic table can be used to predict the electron configuration of an atom and, thus, better predict the reactivity of an atom.

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Subtopics: Electrons

Grade Level: High School

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