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.

  • Covalent Bonding, Ionic Bonding, Polarity, Valence Electrons, Electrostatic Forces, Lewis Dot Diagrams, Electrons, Lewis Structures, Ions | Middle School, High School

    Activity: Animation Activity: Bonding

    In this activity, students will use an animation to visualize how different chemical bonds form. Examples of ionic, covalent, and polar covalent bonds are animated, and then students are given a sample of compounds to predict the bonding types.

  • Physical Properties, Periodic Table, Review, Naming Compounds, Covalent Bonding, Ionic Bonding, VSEPR Theory, Electron Configuration, Stoichiometry, Limiting Reactant, Chemical Change, Subatomic Particles, Molecular Geometry, Lewis Structures | High School

    Activity: Chemistry Review Escape Room

    In this activity, students will work collaboratively to apply their chemistry knowledge in order to “escape the room.” They will work to solve four clues that span a plethora of topics ranging from Atomic Structure all the way up to Stoichiometry. These four clues will point them to four chemical reactions to conduct on a small-scale basis that will correspond with a four-digit combination to a lock. This engaging activity is not only fun for all students but also allows for interactive and collaborative review.

  • Model of the Atom, Covalent Bonding, Ionic Bonding, 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.

  • 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.

  • Elements, Periodic Table, Review, Atomic Mass, Atomic Radius, Ionization Energy, Ions | High School

    Activity: Reviewing the Periodic Table and Periodic Trends

    In this activity, students will use their knowledge of the periodic table and periodic trends to add fictional elements to a periodic table based on their properties. Once the elements are in the correct place they will reveal a hidden message. This review activity will help students prepare for a summative assessment such as a unit test or final exam.

  • 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.

  • 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, Subatomic Particles, Significant Figures | 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.

  • Periodic Table, Atomic Radius, Ionization Energy, Electronegativity | High School

    Activity: Periodic War

    In this activity, students play a card game to apply their knowledge of the periodic trends of the main group elements.

  • 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, Atoms, Review, 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.

  • 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

  • Physical Properties, Solubility, Melting Point, Naming Compounds, Ionic Bonding, Molecular Formula, Ionic Radius, Ions | High School

    Activity: My Name is Bond, Ionic Bond

    In this lesson, students will demonstrate their knowledge of ionic bond strength using a “brackets” activity. Pairs of students start the activity playing a game of “Ionic Compound War” to build eight compounds. Then then transfer the compounds to a “bracket” and use their knowledge of ionic bonding, along with a solubility chart, to predict the strongest and weakest bond between four pairs of ionic substances.

  • Physical Properties, Solubility, Melting Point, Naming Compounds, Ionic Bonding, Molecular Formula, Ionic Radius, Ions | High School

    Activity: Ionic Bonding Brackets

    In this lesson, students will demonstrate their knowledge of ionic bond strength and its relationship to the properties of melting point and solubility using a “brackets” activity. After analyzing the ionic charge and radius to predict the strongest and weakest bond between four pairs of ionic substances, they will then determine which will be the least soluble.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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Grade Level: High School

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