HS-PS1-8 Atomic Theory

Analogy Experiment—Projectile Pennies with Rutherford

Atomic theory is a common topic throughout any introductory chemistry course. It is likely that Rutherford’s gold foil experiment gets at least some attention in your course. I have used a simple activity that gives students an opportunity to replicate Rutherford’s experiment through an analogy experiment that may allow for easier conceptualization of the experiment itself and provide additional support for model development.

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.

Types of Ionizing Radiation Lab and Simulation

Radioactivity is a topic in chemistry that can be difficult to teach if you are looking for a hands-on, data-driven approach. Safety and cost concerns often prevent students from having an inquiry-based experience with the topic. In this post, I will share how I am able to give my students an authentic lab experience for them to determine there are three types of ionizing radiation without direct instruction.

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.

Extension Activity with Isotopes Matter

After receiving positive feedback from Peter Mahaffy, the IUPAC project co-chair of Isotopes Matter, I decided to add an additional component to the original isotope assignment I posted. The second component of the assignment focuses on the applications of both radioactive and stable isotopes using the interactive IUPAC periodic table.