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!