AACT Atomic Structure Unit Plan Updated

By Kim Duncan on October 1, 2020

As chemistry teachers around the country are planning activities for both distant and face-to-face learning, AACT will be highlighting resources from our high school resource library that can be used to reinforce topics in different units throughout the school year. Last week we updated our Chemical Measurements unit and we are now moving on to resources that can be used to support an Atomic Structure unit.

We have added a few resources related to this topic to the high school library, which are highlighted below. We have also updated our unit plan to help you teach an introductory unit on atomic structure. In the sidebar of this page, we have included links to resources that are appropriate for virtual learning.

Use the activity, Electrons and Orbitals to help students differentiate between energy levels, sublevels, orbitals, and electrons. Students often confuse these terms related to electrons and this activity helps them develop a stronger understanding of how to distinguish between them.

Expand on the topic of electrons and orbitals with the Electromagnetic Spectrum animation and lesson plan. The animation helps students learn about the electromagnetic spectrum, with a focus on the visible spectrum. It addresses the relationship between color, wavelength, frequency, and energy of light waves, as well as how an object absorbs and reflects certain wavelengths of light to contribute to the color we perceive.

Introduce the concept of isotopes with the What are Isotopes? Video Questions. Students watch a video that is part of the American Chemical Society video series, Chemistry Basics and then answer questions about isotopes. This activity will help them learn about the discovery of isotopes, the difference between chemical and nuclear reactions, different kinds of radioactive decay, and some uses of radioactive isotopes. This activity is also a good way to introduce nuclear chemistry to your students.

The activity, Using Stable Isotopes to Determine Material Origin can be used as a summative activity on the topics of isotopes, subatomic particles, relative abundance, and stability. Students 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.

If you teach nuclear chemistry to your students, we have two new resources on this topic.

  • Students use periodic trends and data to make predictions about what makes an isotope radioactive with the activity, Why are Some Isotopes Radioactive?. They also verify or refine their predictions using the PhET simulation, Build an Atom.
  • Students apply their knowledge of nuclear notation using trading cards to investigate and discuss the applications of isotopes in the medical field with the activity, Radiological Applications of Isotopes. 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.

We hope that these resources can help you to reinforce several of the topics covered in a unit about atomic structure. Most of these lessons were made possible by great teachers who shared their own resources. We need your help to keep the collection growing. Do you have a great demonstration, activity, or lesson related to this topic that you would like to share with the community? Please send it along for consideration.