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History of the Atom and Electron Configuration

This unit takes students through the history of how our current understanding of the atom was developed. Beginning with the ideas of philosophers like Democritus and ending with the current quantum mechanical model, our knowledge of the atom has changed dramatically in the past two centuries.


History of the Atom and Electron Configuration Lecture

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View the history of the atom and electron configuration Powerpoint lecture.

Purpose: This is a Powerpoint lecture walking students through some of the major people, experiments, and milestones encountered as we learned more about the nature of matter. The history of the atom section covers Greek philosophers like Democritus, the atomic theory of John Dalton, and the experiments of Rutherford, Thompson, and Boyle. Finally, students will be shown the basics of the quantum mechanical model -- the current understanding of how protons, neutrons, and electrons work.

Essential Concepts: Atoms, alchemy, atomic theory, Law of Definite Proportions, Law of Multiple Proportions, plum-pudding model, planetary model, electron orbitals, quantum jumps, electron cloud model, principal energy levels, sublevels, magnetic quantum number, spin quantum number, electron orbital notation, Aufbau principle, Hund's Rule, Pauli Exclusion Principle.


History of the Atom and Electron Configuration Notes Outline

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Download and view the stoichiometry moles-to-moles worksheet.

Purpose: This is a fill-in-the-blank style notes outline for students to complete as you complete the accompanying Powerpoint lecture. Each slide has a set of questions, fill-in-the-blanks, or tables that students fill in based on the information given. This is a good aid for students who struggle with taking notes freehand.

Essential Concepts: Atoms, alchemy, atomic theory, Law of Definite Proportions, Law of Multiple Proportions, plum-pudding model, planetary model, electron orbitals, quantum jumps, electron cloud model, principal energy levels, sublevels, magnetic quantum number, spin quantum number, electron orbital notation, Aufbau principle, Hund's Rule, Pauli Exclusion Principle.


The Atom: Clash of Titans Video Worksheet

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View the Atom Clash of Titans video worksheet.

Purpose: The Atom is a documentary miniseries produced by the BBC. Clash of Titans is the first episode. Professor Jim Al-Khalili tells the story of how we gradually gained an understanding of how the atom works. Covered are many of the milestone experiments, including the Brownian Motion of pollen grains, radiation, the gold foil experiment, and the flame tests.

Essential concepts: Atoms, history of the atom, Brownian Motion, radiation, alpha particles, electrons, neutrons, protons, emission spectra, quantum, Heisenberg uncertainty principle.


Electron Orbital Diagrams (s, p, and d-block only)

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Download and view the electron configuration worksheet.

Purpose: Electron orbital diagrams are a way of illustrating what energy level and orbital shape of the probable location of each of the electrons of an element. In this worksheet, students will learn how to properly fill in the arrows of electron orbital diagrams, following Hund's Rule, the Pauli Exclusion Principle, and the Aufbau Principle.  This worksheet only includes s, p, and d-block elements.

Essential Concepts: Quantum model, electron configuration, electron orbitals, Hund's Rule, Pauli Exclusion Principle, Aufbau Principle.


Electron Orbital Diagrams (f-block)

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Download and view the electron configuration f-block worksheet.

Purpose: This is a follow-up to the previous electron configuration worksheet. This worksheet focuses on writing electron configuration for the f-block elements.

Essential Concepts: Quantum model, electron configuration, electron orbitals, Hund's Rule, Pauli Exclusion Principle, Aufbau Principle.


Electron Orbital Diagrams (Noble Gas Configurations)

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View the noble gas electron configuration worksheet.

Purpose: This is the final electron configuration worksheet. The focus for this one is using Noble gas configurations as a way to shorten the electron configuration diagram for the larger elements.

Essential concepts: Quantum model, electron configuration, electron orbitals, Hund's Rule, Pauli Exclusion Principle, Aufbau Principle.


History of the Atom and Electron Configuration Study Guide

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View the history of the atom and electron configuration study guide.

Purpose: Once the instruction for the unit is completed, students can complete this study guide to aid in their preparation for a written test. The study guide is divided into two sections: vocabulary and short answer questions. The vocabulary words can be found scattered throughout the different instructional worksheets from this unit. The short answer questions are conceptual and meant to see if the students are able to apply what they've learned in the unit.


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