Learning Exercise

Atoms and Isotopes

This lesson is mainly a review of atoms, that is a fifth grade CA standard. The students review atoms, the periodic table of elements, and then are introduced to isotopes which will lead into radiation and the electromagnetic spectrum.
Course: Life Science - 7th

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1) To start things off, there will be a short review on what students remember about atoms. In their groups, or with partners, students will come up with three things they can say about atoms. Different answers will be written on the board, or on an overhead. Incorrect responses will be noted and correct responses will be circled. 2) Following the group discussion, the BrainPOP video on atoms will be played and any questions will be discussed. There is a small multiple-choice quiz related to the video that will be taken and graded in class. 3) After the quiz, the students will take out their lab books and title their notes "Atoms and Isotopes". While they are doing this, a small periodic table will be given to each student and they will either tape or gluestick this into the inside of their lab book cover. 4) The Periodic Table will be roughly explained, including how to read it and what it means in relationship to the atoms themselves. 5) Atoms and their parts will be explained with a main emphasis on the three parts of the atom, where they are located and the atomic number and mass as they relates to the number of protons and neutrons. 6) The next day, there will be a daily warm up review on what was learned about atoms. This will lead into the next part of the lesson: isotopes. 7) Isotopes have differing numbers of neutrons which changes the atomic mass of the atom. The number of protons, atomic number, stays the same. 8) A second BrainPOP video on isotopes will be shown and discussed, and the quiz for that will be given and graded in class. 9) The booklet will then be handed out and students will be shown how to fold the book, correctly. They will receive a rubric which explains what they need to have completed on the booklet. 10) Each group will receive a bucket containing a bag of marshmallows (10 of each of two colors), and small broken toothpicks for holding the marshmallows together. 11) Students need to choose which color represents protons and which color represents neutrons. They will then make a common atom of Hydrogen, Helium, and Beryllium, as well as a given isotope of each. 12) As they make their models, they will also write down the number of neutrons and protons in each atom and the atomic mass. 13) The cover/title page should be colorful and have a unique/creative title saying something about atoms and isotopes. 14) The students assessment for the day is to show their marshmallow models of each of the atoms. They can work on their books for homework and turn them in the next class day.




Basic understanding of atoms and the Periodic Table.


Atoms, Isotopes

Learning Objectives

Students will understand what atoms are and how to use the Periodic Table of Elements. Students will learn the difference between isotopes and common atoms. Students will be able to build models of common atoms and their isotopes with marshmallows and explain how the number of neutrons affects the atomic mass of an atom.


Students will develop a booklet that describes three different common atoms and one isotope of each. They will first design marshmallow and toothpick models of the nucleus of the atom and then draw the nucleus in their books. Students will be graded on the accuracy of the atomic mass calculations and number of protons and neutrons, as well as their drawing of the nucleus for each atom. They will also be graded on the creativity and color of their title page.