Earlier this month, we shared the basics of teaching chemistry at home. Now, we want to share a super fun game you can use to learn about atoms and isotopes!
We had a blast playing this game as a family, even our 5-year-old understood how to play. It’s a great way to sneak in some super-fun review after you have learned about atoms and isotopes!
3. The youngest player begins the game by choosing a card and then doing what it tells you to do. Once they are done, the player to the right chooses a card and repeats the process.
4. Gameplay continues until someone wins.
Be the first player to create an atom of each of the stable isotopes on their player card.
The Greeks were the first to discuss the concept of an atom. They believed that matter could be cut into smaller and smaller pieces, but that eventually, you would get to a piece that could not be cut. So, the word atom comes from the Greek word, atomos, which means “uncuttable”.
It wasn’t until 1808 that John Dalton, an English scientist, and schoolteacher, developed a theory about how atoms behave. His theory said that an element is composed of tiny particles called atoms, in an ordinary chemical reaction, no atom of an element disappears and compounds are formed when atoms of two or more elements combine.
So on the basis of his theory; scientists were now able to say that the atom was the smallest particle of an element. The modern atomic theory is very similar to what Dalton proposed, except now we know the sub-particles that compose an atom as well as that structure of an atom. So, let’s take a closer look at the structure of an atom.
The atom is composed of three smaller subatomic particles, called the proton, neutron, and electron. The proton is a positively charged particle that resides in the nucleus at the center of an atom. The neutron is a particle with no charge that also resides in the nucleus of an atom. The electron is a negatively charged particle that resides in a cloud around the nucleus, which is called an electron shell.
Atoms have an equal number of protons and electrons, which gives them no net charge. In other words, the positive charges from the protons are canceled out by the negative charges of the electrons within the atom. Generally, an atom of a given element has the same number of neutrons as protons, but there are exceptions.
Some atoms have additional neutrons in their nucleus, and we call these atoms isotopes of the element. These isotopes have the same atomic number, but different atomic mass. Remember that the atomic number is the number of protons in an element and atomic mass is the total weight of the protons, neutrons, and electrons in an element. So it makes sense that an isotope would have the same atomic number, but a different atomic mass from the original element.
As you work through this information with your students, you can have them create a narration sheet using the following templates or one of our programs:
Here are a few yummy atom models you can make with your students:
Here are a few books you can check out from the library to learn more about atoms:
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