By Olly Hoult, Teacher of Chemistry
This week the Chemistry Department instructed Block 3 to construct models an atom and an ion as part of the Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table topic. What makes Chemistry such a challenging subject is that it involves studying a broad range of abstract concepts. Learning about atoms and ions is an example of this.
The building blocks of the universe are so small they are almost impossible to visualise. Therefore scientists use models to help conceptualise the mysterious quantum world. The model of the atom is ever evolving as scientists produce new experiments which question previously accepted theory. We believe model building is a necessary tool in science teaching as it gives students a more authentic experience of the scientific process while as teachers it gives a more detailed insight into what students have learned from this topic. In these challenging times of remote learning we also felt the task was useful as an exercise to get students off their screens and really let their creativity take over.
Joel Edgeworth has this to say about his model: “For my atomic model project I made a neutral neon atom and a positively charge Sodium ion. For my project I used pizza boxes and the stands which the pizzas are held on. I made two models for each particle, the nucleus and the electronic configuration, and I used a tea grain to show the relative size of a nucleus in proportion to the rest of the atom / ion.”
Dyaln Hui had this to say about this week’s lesson: “In my model of a helium atom and a hydride +1 ion, I only have 3 bits of wire, some blue tack and a bit of crumples foil. These few bits and pieces have made a convincing atomic structure model, and it was fun to make them as well. It doesn’t matter if you’re an artist or not, it is about having fun with it, and maybe learning something along the way.”
Students then had to present their work to the class the following week. The variety of methods and materials students used was amazing. We had video presentations, edible protons, and models made within virtual gaming worlds. The creativity of Block 3 students is there to see and he have collated their work in a flip book which we hope you can find time to look through – view it here.
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