NSDL teaching resources related to “atom”

This guide to a workshop for primary teachers provides an introduction to the concepts of mixing of atoms and the relation between microscopic and macroscopic behaviors. It is designed to provide teachers with an inquiry-based learning experience to the basic concepts of the properties of atoms and basic chemistry. It is part of the Operation Primary Physical Science materials.

OPPS: Mixing Matter

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This website from the University of Virginia provides an overview of the advancements in chemistry and physics that led to the atomic model of matter. The ideas of Galileo, Dalton, Gay-Lussac, Avogadro, and others are presented in order to describe the development of kinetic theory, element patterns, and other concepts in modern chemistry. Also, the site quotes nineteenth century scientists who opposed the atomic model.

Evolution of the Atomic Concept and the Beginnings of Modern Chemistry

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This lesson covers the generation of the Sun’s energy through nuclear fusion, as well as some ideas about the evolution of stars like the Sun and their ultimate collapse, leading in some cases to supernova explosions. The section also acquaints the student with some fundamentals of nuclear physics. In addition, the lesson plan contains a supplemental section, which is a historical introduction to the emergence of our ideas on atoms, nuclei and their constituents.

The Energy of the Sun: The Discovery of Atoms and Nuclei

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In this interactive activity, students view six models to investigate what a gas, liquid, and solid look like at the atomic level. Choose to view a gas or liquid made of atoms only, a gas made of diatomic molecules, a liquid made of triatomic molecules, or two types of solids. In each simulation, users may highlight an atom and view its trajectory to see how the motion differs in each of the three primary phases. Don’t miss the extension activity: a side-by-side comparison of the atomic structure of a hot liquid and a cold liquid. If you click “Withdraw the Barrier”, the two liquids mix.

Concord Consortium: States of Matter

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This classroom-tested learning module gives a condensed, easily-understood view of the development of atomic theory from the late 19th through early 20th century. The key idea was the discovery that the atom is not an “indivisible” particle, but consists of smaller constituents: the proton, neutron, and electron. It discusses the contributions of John Dalton, J.J. Thomson, Ernest Rutherford, and James Chadwick, whose experiments revolutionized the world view of atomic structure. See Related Materials for a link to Part 2 of this series.

Visionlearning: Atomic Theory I

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This simulation promotes understanding of isotopes by providing a simple way to model isotopes of the first 10 elements in the Periodic Table. In the most basic model, users click on an atomic symbol. The simulation displays a stable isotope for that atom. (For example, choose Helium and view a nucleus with two protons and two neutrons.) Now, drag neutrons into the nucleus and watch to see if atom becomes unstable. Students may be surprised to see that Beryllium and Flourine, for example, are unstable with equal numbers of protons and neutrons in the nucleus.

PhET Simulation: Isotopes and Atomic Mass

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In this classroom activity, learners construct a wobbly model of a crystal array to investigate the attractive interaction between neighboring atoms in a solid. By using this less traditional model, students explore chemical bonds as analogous to a stretched or compressed spring. Gently shaking the model shows how stored energy can be communicated to the next layer of atoms. Vigorous shaking causes the model to break apart, representing the breaking of chemical bonds.

Practical Physics: A Model of Vibrating Atoms in a Solid

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