Reflection: Modeling How The Atom Was Proven To Exist - Section 2: Background Science


I created this lesson years ago because I had so many students ask me how we know atoms exist if we can't see them. When I was a younger teacher I didn't have a good answer, so most of the time I would respond that they should look up the answer and get back to me and if it was a good answer I would give them extra credit. For years no one took me up on the offer, but a few years ago a student pulled out their smart phone and looked it up right in the classroom (technology changes the classroom). It was at this moment I decided that I need to teach a lesson like this.

On the other end of the spectrum I now have kids that ask my why they need to learn this if it isn't going to be on the test, or they ask how this knowledge will help them in their future life. Sound familiar? My typical answer is that boys will want to meet girls, girls want to meet boys, or any other combination (yes, children are coming out of the closet in the eight grade - be ready for new classroom dynamics). 

I tell them that in the next few years they will end up sitting next to someone special in class, at a football game, or perhaps at a party and will want to talk to them. At some point the conversation is going to hit a "dead spot". You need in your arsenal quirky stories to pick the conversation back up. What better way then to tell a funny story about how Einstein confirmed the existence of atoms - you've proved that you are interesting, smart, well read, and entertaining! 

  Why should students care about this?
  Modeling: Why Should Students Care About This?
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How The Atom Was Proven To Exist

Unit 4: Atomic Structure
Lesson 2 of 5

Objective: Students will be able to explain how Einstein used Brownian Motion to finally prove scientifically that atoms exist.

Big Idea: In 1905, a young Albert Einstein published four groundbreaking theories. One of those theories used Brownian Motion to prove the existence of atoms. This lesson is part one of three describing how we discovered the atomic model used today.

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  40 minutes
the existance of atoms
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