Thursday, March 25, 2010

Atoms: Atom Models

For a couple of years, I have assigned Mr. Niven's Atom Project to my students. I have typed up my own instructions (as some of his statements wouldn't make sense to my students), but required the same elements as Mr. Niven. I've greatly enjoyed the resulting projects and appreciate the "able to hang from the ceiling" requirement. Getting them to hang is a bit of a chore, but once they're up, they're enjoyable to look at and they don't take up precious space on lab tables or elsewhere.

Once the projects have been turned in, I like to have students take turns sharing the information they found. To keep other students paying attention, I have them take notes of the highlights. Then, after everyone has presented, they are given a brief quiz ("This element is the most abundant in the universe.") during which they can use their notes. For students who have paid attention, it should be an easy way to boost their grade.

FYI The models pictured here were created by my students. And, with regard to the second model, it did have the appropriate number of electrons... they started to fall off while being stored.


  1. Could you post more details or the handout you use? Mr. Niven's page wouldn't load and I would love to use this activity.

  2. I would also like to do this in my class. Would you please share the directions? The Niven page is not available.

  3. Here is one of my rubrics I've adapted over the years... total of 85 points
    Scientific content
    (5) Element name and symbol
    (5) Atomic number and mass
    (5) Numbers of protons and neutrons
    (5) Number of electrons
    (5) Classification (metal, non, metalloid)
    (5) Family
    (5) Discovery

    (5) Color Code Key
    (10) Nucleus with p+ and neutrons, correct # of p+ and neutrons, or appearance of larger nucleus
    (10) Correct # of e- in each energy level
    (10) Spatial relationships correct (nucleus center, energy levels surrounding nucleus)
    (5) Energy levels all labeled correctly