Thursday, January 26, 2012

Building Elements

My students have been working hard completing their interactive Science notebooks for our chapter on Classifying Matter.  The first lesson in our Unit was on learning elements and atoms.  We read the lesson in the book and then I go over a PowerPoint I created on how to break down atoms and to know exactly how many protons, neutrons and electrons a particular element has.  We talk about how each of these components have a different charge of positive, negative or neutral and some ways to remember which goes with each one.  Students are always amazed that how just one proton makes the difference between whether you have Hydrogen or Helium and so forth.

One of my favorite "quick" activities for this chapter is when I have my students build an element out of string and sequins. Before they can do this, they must figure out how many protons, neutrons and electrons the element has.  Since they need to find matching sequins to represent each of these numbers, I typically only assign them elements 5-15 on the Periodic Table.  They can quickly determine the number of protons in the element by simply looking at the Atomic Number. And from there, they know that the number of protons is equal to electrons.  However, in order to figure out the number of neutrons they need to use the formula we created of p+n=aw (p = protons, n = neutrons, and aw= atomic weight).  This is fabulous because they have been learning all about different formulas in math class and how to isolate a variable to solve the equation.  They need to show their work on the back of their project.

Once they have figured out all the required data, they then cut a 8" string to form the barrier of the atom (in the future, I think I'll make it 10").  They then choose three different colored sequins to represet each of of the three different areas of the atom.  They cluster together the protons and neutrons together in the center of the string which they know is called the nucleus.  They then put the electrons on the outside of the string.  They need to create a key on their paper to tell the reader which sequin represents what and put the name of the element and its abbreviation on top.

Math, Science and Art all combine together for a cool and quick project where the students are able to learn a lot and apply what they've learned. :-)


1 comment:

  1. Do you think it would work to have students use the string to represent the different layers of electrons in the Bohr model? I'm considering this for 7th and 8th graders.


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