In this activity from A Science Odyssey on the PBS site, you have a chance to build a carbon atom. The site provides you with some basic information on the first page. It also provides two guides, The Atom Builder Guide to Elementary Particles and The Atom Builder Guide to Building a Stable Atom, to help you when you do the activity.
Once you have read the guides, you can go to the Atom Builder activity where you will attempt to make a carbon atom starting from a hydrogen atom. In the interactive, you should drag the up quarks and the down quarks into the nucleon assembly area to form protons and neutrons, and then drag the proton or neutron to the atom building area. You also can drag electrons directly to the atom building area. If you are not successful in building the carbon atom (i.e., the balance between the protons, neutrons, and electrons is not maintained), then the atom will become ionized and attach itself to an atom outside the building area or it will become radioactive and decay. In this case, you will have to select the “start over” icon and begin again. Once you are successful at building a carbon atom, the activity will be over. Return to the main page and select “Description of an atom builder” which shows how the carbon atom should look.
This site is a good resource to utilize when teaching students about the basics of chemistry. The activity goes great with information taught to students while they are learning about the periodic table. Have students select a topic that they are interested in learning more about and then tell them to prepare a lesson on this topic that could be taught to their peers. Topics must be approved by you and could include the following ideas: elements, compounds, and mixtures; metals and their chemical symbols; molecules; chemical nomenclature; atomic and molecular mass; atomic number; the nucleus; isotopes; classification of elements; and periodic trends. Tell them to include pictures, diagrams, models, etc., to be used in their lesson. Have them present their lesson to the class or have them turn in their prepared lesson for evaluation and a grade.
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