Classroom Resources: Atomic Structure


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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Isotopes, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles

    Simulation: Isotopes & Calculating Average Atomic Mass

    In the May 2017 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.

  • Naming Compounds, Molecular Formula, Periodic Table, Covalent Bonding, Ionic Bonding, Valence Electrons, Subatomic Particles, Lewis Dot Diagrams, Molecular Geometry, Ions, Lewis Structures | High School, Middle School

    Simulation: Ionic & Covalent Bonding

    In the September 2016 simulation, students investigate both ionic and covalent bonding. Students will have the opportunity to interact with many possible combinations of atoms and will be tasked with determining the type of bond and the number of atom needed to form each. Students will become familiar with the molecular formula, as well as the naming system for each type of bond and geometric shape, when applicable.

  • Periodic Table, Atoms, Model of the Atom, Valence Electrons, Subatomic Particles, Atomic Radius, Ionic Radius, Electron Affinity, Electrons, Ions

    Simulation: Periodic Trends II: Electron Affinity, Atomic Radius & Ionic Radius

    The May 2016 simulation is a follow-up to the March 2016 simulation. Students will focus their investigation on the electron affinity of an atom. Through the use of this simulation students will have the opportunity to examine the formation of an anion as well as compare the atomic radius of a neutral atom to the ionic radius of its anion.

  • Periodic Table, Atoms, Model of the Atom, Valence Electrons, Subatomic Particles, Atomic Radius, Ionic Radius, Ionization Energy, Electrons, Ions

    Simulation: Periodic Trends: Ionization Energy, Atomic Radius & Ionic Radius

    In this simulation for the March 2016 issue, students can investigate the periodic trends of atomic radius, ionization energy, and ionic radius. By choosing elements from the periodic table, atoms can be selected for a side by side comparison and analysis. Students can also attempt to ionize an atom by removing its valence electrons. Quantitative data is available for each periodic trend, and can be further examined in a graph.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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