Using AACT Resources to Teach Atomic Structure

By Kim Duncan on April 14, 2016

Atomic Structure is a probably the most fundamental concept of chemistry and mastery of this subject is essential for students in AP Chemistry.

april_14_kdThere are 20 different Learning Objectives on this subject in Big Idea 1 in the AP Chemistry Curriculum Framework (shown on the right). AACT has several classroom resources that can help your students master this material.

  • In the Spectral Detective lab, students will use a spectroscope to view the atomic spectra of various unknown elements. Using their collected data in combination with known atomic spectra, they will identify the chemical elements.
  • Students will make and use a spectroscope to identify the spectra within various types of light bulbs in Build a Spectroscope. The student will then develop an improved design for the spectroscope.
  • Students can use the Exciting Electrons simulation to explore what happens when electrons are excited from their ground state. They will see that when an electron relaxes from an excited state to its ground state, energy is released in the form of electromagnetic radiation.
  • The Tic-Tac-Toe Review activity can be used to help your student prepare for a unit test or the AP exam. The student activity sheet can be downloaded as a Word document and updated as you see fit.
  • In the AACT webinar, Incorporating PhET Simulation into Topical Units in High School Chemistry, the presenters shared several classroom resources pertaining to a unit on atomic structure using PhET simulations and materials.
  • Students can investigate the periodic trends of atomic radius, ionization energy, and ionic radius with the Periodic Trends simulation from the March 2016 issue of Chemistry Solutions. 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.
  • In the Orbitals animation, students can visualize how orbitals are superimposed upon one another within an atom, in three dimensions. The orbitals depicted in this animation are 1s, 2s, 2p, 3s, 3p, 4s, and 3d.
  • The Atomic & Ionic Radii animation allows students to see how the radius of atoms changes in a group or period and how ionic radii changes as electrons are added or removed.
  • For those of you who still delve into the world of quantum numbers, the Quantum Numbers lesson plan can serve as a good activity to review this concept.

Several of these lessons were made possible by great teachers sharing their own resources. We need your help to keep the collection growing. Do you have a great AP demonstration, activity, or lesson about any topics relating to Atomic Structure that you would like to share with the community?Please send it along for consideration.