Atomic Structure

Stamp of the Week #2

Germany issued a pair of stamps that honor two fundamentally huge accomplishments in science in 1994. The Quantum Theory and Ohm’s Law. They were really well designed stamps and very accurate in their science.

M&Ms as Isotopes

Use Mega M&Ms, M&Ms minis, and regular M&M’s in this activity to examine the concept of isotopes and average atomic mass. The color of the M&M’s represent that they are the same element and have the same number of protons. The size represents, in a relative sense, the different numbers of neutrons.

How I Fell in Love with PES

Like many AP Chemistry teachers, I was not fond of teaching Photoelectron Spectroscopy (PES). Surprisingly, I fell in love with teaching PES in AP Chemistry this year after I made an old-school change.

Pivot Interactives—A Resource All Chemistry Teachers Should Know About

As many teachers are preparing for the possibility of teaching online next semester, we are revisiting posts from the ChemEd X archives like this one that might be of help. As a teacher, having the freedom to create or edit something within my instruction based on the needs of my students is incredibly important to me. So, when I found out the activities in Pivot Interactives are completely customizable, I was thrilled. (Originally published 12/14/18)

March Madness with the Periodic Table

This past March, I ran a multi-day poll on Twitter that was designed to be a fun way to determine the “best” element on the periodic table. I’m sharing about the poll here on ChemEdX in case others might want to try something similar in their classrooms.

Figuring Out Electron Configurations

After spending the start of the year using a modified version of the Modeling Instruction curriculum (density and physical properties, followed by gas laws, followed by energy and phase changes), we don’t actually start talking about what’s inside atoms until December. I love that by this point students are already familiar with some of the habits of mind needed to reason abstractly about atoms -- thinking proportionally, explaining macroscopic observations at the particle level -- and we are ready to layer on both more abstraction and the symbolic level. By January, we are ready to explore electron configurations.

Isotopes, Nuts, Bolts and Eggs

This is the first isotope activity I have tried where the students can look inside the model that resembled the atom and find information that reinforced what an isotope actually is. Furthermore, the quantitative data forced them to examine beliefs about different types of averages and what the numbers really mean.