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In this activity students explore the structure and properties of atoms. They construct models of atoms with properties of particular mass and charge; create models of atoms with different stabilities by adding or subtracting neutrons, protons, and electrons to a model atom; and determine that the same element may have varying number of neutrons and these form isotopes.
Students will be able to:
• Explore the probabilistic electron orbital model to help explain where electrons are most likely to be found.
• Explain that all atoms have similar structure, differing only in the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons.
• Build models of atoms and ions and identify patterns in numbers of protons and neutrons in stable nuclei and ions.
• Describe simple patterns in the periodic table.
Biologists: It is useful for students to understand (especially if they have not taken chemistry first) that all biological structures are made of atoms and molecules. Biological functions are due to the number and arrangements of atoms and electrons. It is important, therefore, to be familiar with the structure of atoms.
Atoms are the basic building block of matter. Atoms are composed of three types of particles: protons, neutrons, and electrons. Protons and neutrons are responsible for mass. Protons determine atomic number. Protons have a positive charge and electrons have a negative charge.
Additional Related Concepts
Fermi Lab's ARISE suggests the following enhancement to the SAM unit:
This activity can also be used to explore radiation. Concept map is located at:
The following quote might be useful for engaging the class in a discussion. "If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic hypothesis (or the atomic fact, or whatever you wish to call it) that all things are made of atoms -- little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another." (Feynman, Leighton, & Sands, 1963, v1, p. 2)
Last Update: 11/25/2008
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These materials are based upon work supported
by the National Science Foundation under grant numbers
9980620, ESI-0242701 and EIA-0219345
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