Classroom Resources: Atomic Structure


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

    Activity: Animation Activity: Building Blocks of Matter

    In this activity, students will view an animation that introduces them to the idea that everything is made of atoms, and that since atoms are so extremely small, even small objects contain vast numbers of atoms. They will see several examples to illustrate this point. Then they will be given a brief overview of the evolution of how people thought about atoms from the ancient Greeks through Dalton.

  • Introduction, Elements, History, Periodic Table, Atoms, Model of the Atom, Atomic Theory, Matter | Middle School, High School

    Animation: Atoms: The Building Blocks of Matter Animation

    In this animation, students will be introduced to the idea that everything is made of atoms, and that since atoms are so extremely small, even small objects contain vast numbers of atoms. They will see several examples to illustrate this point. Then they will be given a brief overview of the evolution of how people thought about atoms from the ancient Greeks through Dalton.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Periodic Table, Atoms, Matter | Elementary School

    Lesson Plan: The Periodic Table of Elements

    In this lesson students will be introduced to the Periodic Table of Elements. Students will learn that matter is made of small particles called atoms, too small to see with the naked eye. They will also learn that there are more than 100 different types of atoms, which are presented on the Periodic Table of Elements.

  • Introduction, Elements, History, Periodic Table, Atoms, Valence Electrons, Subatomic Particles, Electrons | 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.

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

  • Introduction, Elements, History, Periodic Table, Atoms, Subatomic Particles, Electrons | Elementary School, Middle School, High School

    Activity: Writing Your Name using Chemical Element Symbols

    In this activity, students will use their creativity to spell their name (first or middle name and their last name) using chemical symbols of elements on the periodic table. For example, you can spell Yvonne using the symbols for yttrium (Y), vanadium (V), oxygen (O), nitrogen (N), and neon (Ne).

  • Observations, Introduction, Elements, History, Periodic Table, Atoms, Model of the Atom, Culminating Project, Matter | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Is a Picture Worth 1000 Words?

    In this activity, students will learn about early chemistry discoveries through a textbook reading as well as from a cartoon.

  • Physical Properties, Elements, History, Periodic Table, Atoms, Model of the Atom, Identifying an Unknown, Valence Electrons, Subatomic Particles, Atomic Radius, Ionic Radius, Ionization Energy, Electron Affinity, Chemical Properties, Electrons, Ions | High School

    Lesson Plan: The Periodic Table Unit Plan

    The AACT high school classroom resource library and multimedia collection 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 the Periodic Table to your students.

  • Physical Properties, History, Periodic Table, Atoms, Model of the Atom, Isotopes, Electron Configuration, Valence Electrons, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles, Atomic Radius, Chemical Properties, Electrons, Orbitals | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Ptable.com Investigations

    In this activity, students will use the online periodic table found at www.ptable.com to investigate a number of chemistry concepts. Students will use this online resource to explore information about the elements, including historical data, physical properties, periodic trends and more.

  • Elements, Interdisciplinary, History, Periodic Table, Atoms, Model of the Atom | Middle School, High School

    Project: Element Baby Book

    In this activity, students will “adopt” an element and create a baby book about their “new baby” while they research and learn about the element.

  • Electricity, Interdisciplinary, Atoms, Culminating Project, Electrons, Electrons | Elementary School, Middle School

    Activity: Electrical Circuit Quiz Box

    In this activity, students will learn that the flow of electrons within a closed circuit make our lives easier. Students will construct a circuit quiz box that lights up when the correct question and answer are chosen.

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

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

    In this 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 | High School

    Activity: Periodic Trends I: Ionization Energy, Atomic Radius & Ionic Radius

    In this simulation, students will investigate several periodic trends, including atomic radius, ionization energy and ionic radius. Through the use of this simulation students will have the opportunity to examine atomic data as well as visually compare and interact with select elements from the periodic table.

  • Introduction, Elements, Periodic Table, Atoms, Model of the Atom, Electrons | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Periodic Puzzler

    In this activity, students will learn about what makes up an atom and how important protons are in the placement of elements on the periodic table.

  • Atoms, Model of the Atom, Isotopes, Atomic Theory, Atomic Mass, Subatomic Particles, Ions | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Simulation Activity: Building an Atom

    In this simulation, students manipulate the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons in an element and determine how these effect the mass number, atomic number, and other properties of an atom.

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