Reflection: Modeling Scale Model of an Atom - Section 3: Teacher Demonstration


One of the themes I mention in my class is the limitations of model used to depict scientific principles. We discuss that authors of scientific material have to make sacrifices and compromises when creating a model. In this case the atom is conveyed at a much smaller scale so the model -- in most instances a diagram in a textbook -- can fit on a page within a book. As long as my students are aware of these compromises and understand their meaning they should have a better experience in high school and college chemistry.

The same compromises are used to show our Solar System. Often the planets are shown at a large scale and the Sun in shown at a smaller scale to present a model of the Solar System. Misconceptions arise when students don't understand these compromises.

  Compromises using models
  Modeling: Compromises using models
Loading resource...

Scale Model of an Atom

Unit 4: Atomic Structure
Lesson 5 of 5

Objective: Students will be exposed to the true scale of the interior of an atom using Goggle Maps as a means to show the distance between the proton and the electron.

Big Idea: Most texts depict the electron relatively close to the proton because that is what fits on a single page, the true scale is much larger, as seen in this Google Map.

  Print Lesson
  140 minutes
scale model of atom
Similar Lessons
Density of Solids and Liquids
8th Grade Science » Heat Transfer and Interactions of Matter
Big Idea: A tried and true lesson for introducing or reviewing how to measure the density of solids and liquids.
Brookline, MA
Environment: Urban
Ryan Keser
Molecules Matter
6th Grade Science » Matter
Big Idea: Students see that matter is composed of tiny objects that are attracted to one another.
East Walpole, MA
Environment: Suburban
David Kujawski
What is Matter?
6th Grade Science » States of Matter
Big Idea: Students need to understand complex vocabulary in their own way. This lesson allows them to make sense of the word matter in their own terms.
Brooklyn, NY
Environment: Urban
Drewe Warndorff
Something went wrong. See details for more info
Nothing to upload