Reflection: Complex Tasks Electron Configuration Part II - Section 3: Explain


Electron configurations are always difficult for students to understand.  This mostly is the case because it is not something that we can visualize so just have to understand the abstract concepts of energy levels, sublevels, and orbitals. 

I work on giving students visuals including:

  1. Bohr models with circles of energy levels (students can see that each energy level is further from the nucleus)
  2. Sublevels with pictures of how each of the orbitals in the different sublevels look (spherical for s, dumbbell for p, and various shapes for d and p).
  3. Orbitals with box diagrams and arrows. 

For many students this is nice but they still struggle with actually writing electron configurations.  Therefore I introduce them to the "Electron Configuration Tool".  This is basically a way for students to determine the energy level, sublevel, and #of electrons to write proper electron configurations.  This video shows how students use this.

Just like any other resource it is important to tell students that this is just a tool to help them visualize and that they will not be able to use on the exam. 

  Complex Tasks: "Electron Configuration Tool"
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Electron Configuration Part II

Unit 2: Unit 2: Matter, Atoms, and the Periodic Table
Lesson 7 of 11

Objective: Students will be able to write electron configurations for elements including orbital box diagrams and shorthand notation by taking notes, watching videos, and doing an activity.

Big Idea: Electrons are located in energy levels within sublevels and orbitals.

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electron config pic
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