Blog Post #3 Backward Design-Structure of the Atom

In my Chemistry classes I will be teaching the Structure of the Atom, that will cover the events that led to the discovery of the electron, Rutherford’s experiment that led to the discovery of the nucleus, properties of protons, electrons and neutrons, isotopes, atomic number and mass number.


Established goals:

Students will be able to define an atom, describe the properties of protons, neutrons and electrons. Using the periodic table students will be able to find the atomic number and mass number of different elements.

My lesson connects to Alaska Standards: B1:The student demonstrates an understanding of the structure and properties of matter by [10] SB1.1 using the periodic table to describe atoms in terms of their base components (i.e., protons, neutrons, electrons).

My lesson also connects to New Generation Science Standards: HS-PS1-1. Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter Each atom has a charged substructure consisting of a nucleus, which is made of protons and neutrons,surrounded by electrons. (HS-PS1-1)

The essential questions for this lesson will be:

  • How did the concept of the atom changed over time?
  • How are atoms of one element different from atoms of another element?

Students will know what an atom is, describe the properties of protons, neutrons, and electrons.

Students will acquire the following skills: using the periodic table students will be able to find the atomic number and mass of different elements.

Common misconceptions:

  • Students may think that the identity of the atom is determined by the number of electrons and neutrons, which is not true. The identity of an atom is determined by the number of protons. The number of electrons and neutrons can vary and the atom will still be the same element. But if the number of protons changes, then the atom becomes an atom of a different element.


  • I will use an activity called Kahoot! To connect to student’s prior knowledge of the atom from middle school and high school.
  • Students will do worksheets and actively participate in the classroom discussions.   

Learning activities:

  • I would start my lesson showing to the students two different shapes made from identical pieces of a toy construction set. I will demonstrate how even though the two shapes look different, the characteristics of the various parts that compose them are the same. This is true with the atom. Though atoms of different elements display different properties, isolated subatomic particles have the same properties, regardless of their source.
  • To build the reading skills I would write the following on the whiteboard:
    • An atom cannot be broken down into smaller parts
    • An atom is the same throughout
    • An atom is made up of several different, smaller parts

I will then ask the students their opinions about the statements, have them discuss their opinion and try to justify their answer( this will give students the opportunity to explore the topic).

  • To reach all learning styles, I would ask students to draw an atom and its parts. Using the Periodic Table I would ask them to find the number of protons, electrons, neutrons, and the mass number of a certain element.

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