Perky Patty Proton and the Atoms Family

The students in my classroom are still trying to wrap their brains around the concepts of atoms, sub-atomic particles, the periodic table, and the history of atomic models. Today we did a variety of activities to help them visualize these difficult constructs. To teach them the history of atomic discovery, they constructed a ‘Atomic Time’ billboard-like timeline of six contributing scientists and the model they construed. Drawing the picture of J.R. Thompson’s “plum pudding model” was a favorite. To try to cement the concepts of atomic number and atomic mass (AGAIN!) we gave them two different types of candy that posed as protons and neutrons.

The best part of the day was in the wrap-up where we read a story about ‘Matterville’ where the ‘Atoms Family’ lived, clearly patterned off of the popular TV show, The Adams Family. Whoever wrote the story had an immense, wacky imagination but perhaps that is what it takes to engage students these days. Best, we sang an ‘atomic’ adaptation of the Adams Family Song, getting 100% participation and hopefully imprinting a song in young brains that spins round and round at least until the next checkpoint!


About Sarah Roels

I'm a former Ph.D. student at the University of Kansas in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department. I study mating system evolution in plants, using the model system Mimulus. I now work at Michigan State University as their GK-12 project manager.
This entry was posted in 2011-2012 GK12, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Perky Patty Proton and the Atoms Family

  1. benson3 says:

    We are working on the same subject matter in my classroom right now. I think we need to try some of these ideas, because the students are just not engaged/glazed over for most of it. I tried to explain that Pro in proton is positive, Neutron is neutral, little things like that… and five minutes later they couldn’t answer that same question. I don’t understand where that piece of information goes in just a few minutes.

  2. Sarah Roels says:

    I don’t either! Daily, intense repetition seems to be the only thing so far!

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