Happy atoms have their rings completely filled with electrons. Some atoms share electrons with other atoms and some give away their electrons to form molecules. We demonstrated this by carrying shopping bags (representing the rings) around. Some bags could hold 2 electrons and some could hold eight. If they weren't completely full the shopper searched frantically until the bag was filled.
Once the kids understood that the atoms wanted full rings they began combining them to create molecules. Here is how they created a NH3, ammonia molecule.
Green gumdrops represented Nitrogen (N) atoms. Nitrogen contains seven electrons; 2 in the inner ring and 5 in the outer. To make Nitrogen happy, it wants three more electrons in its outer ring.
First the kids added three additional toothpicks in the gumdrop to be filled with electrons. Then they added a toothpick in a Hydrogen (H), red gumdrop, so it's inner ring could be filled with two electrons. Next, the Nitrogen an Hydrogen atoms were combined and they each shared an electron. Two additional Hydrogen atoms were needed to fill the outer shell of Nitrogen.
After having so much fun they were surprised to learn the common names for the molecules they created.
H2O - Water
NH3 - Amonia
CH4 - Methane
The kids thought this was a great activity and I was excited by how much they learned.
- Happy atoms have full outer rings
- Atoms share electrons or give away electrons to fill their outer rings
- Molecules can be written with chemical formulas
- The formulas tell what kind and how many atoms are in a molecule
- Chemical formulas such as H2O have more common names
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