Classroom Resources: Atomic Structure


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  • 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.

  • 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.

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

    Activity: Periodic Table Challenge Game

    In this activity, students will play an online game that quizzes their knowledge about the atomic structure of the first 20 elements on the periodic table. Students will be asked to identify different elements based on information related to subatomic particles, placement on the periodic table or from a provided Bohr model. This game has several options for students to choose from, and can be used to review content, or as a formative assessment.

  • Covalent Bonding, Ionic Bonding, Model of the Atom, Valence Electrons, Lewis Structures | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Chemists in the Lab Game

    In this activity, students will play a game that is modeled after Settlers of Catan to explore how atoms of certain elements combine in fixed ratios to form molecules.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

    Project: The Scientists Behind the Atom

    In this project, students will create a digital (or paper) book about the scientists who contributed to our understanding of the atom.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • Periodic Table, Model of the Atom, Valence Electrons, Subatomic Particles, Electrons, Ions | 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.

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