Build-an-Atom sixth grade science assignment

Please pick an element from the periodic table to construct an atomic model of. No repeats are allowed! I would like you to work with 1-2 other students to do this. To keep things relatively simple, no atomic numbers above 20 are allowed, but you will probably want to choose an atomic number less than 10. Do your best to discuss, plan, and divide up tasks. You may use the following materials:

  • Whoppers
  • Lemonheads
  • Spray paint x3
  • Fishing line
  • Hot glue or pins to bind the nucleus together
  • Anything else!

I ask that you make all protons green, neutrons red, and electrons yellow. You can use the spray paint to this effect.

Remember that your nucleus needs to be clustered together in the center of the atom with the electrons circling it.

IMPORTANT: You not only need to include the correct number of electrons but also place them in the correct shells. For simplicity’s sake, let’s all put the first electron shell 8” from the nucleus and the 2nd electron shell 3” beyond that.

Your whole atom should be suspended from the ceiling in some out-of-the-way place of the basement. Next to it, hang a card stating the name of the atom and the number of each subatomic particle.


 Daniel writes:

This assignment was stressful, but I do think it was helpful, and the end results were mostly impressive. The main issues were…

  1. Painting all those Whoppers. Having Gumballs/Fireballs that we wouldn’t have to paint would be really helpful.
  2. Getting the Whoppers to cohere together was challenging, although the hairnets really helped.
  3. High atomic numbers were challenging. I wouldn’t recommend using any atomic numbers over 6-8 max to reduce the number of electrons required.

We also might try to size/scale/space the particles more accurately. In reality, the electrons would likely be much further from the nucleus.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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