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History of the Atom

Time Frame:
3 class periods that run 60 minutes each.

Group Size:
Small Groups


Students work in small individually and in small groups to learn about models of the atom during different time periods up to our current understanding. They make a poster or foldable book and teach what they have learned to other groups with other models. (This could easily be done using a PowerPoint also)

Main Curriculum Tie:
SEEd - Grade 8 (2017)
Strand 8.1: Matter and energy interact in the physical world 8.1.1

Develop a model to describe the scale and proportion of atoms and molecules. Emphasize developing atomic models of elements and their numbers of protons, neutrons, and electrons, as well as models of simple molecules. Topics like valence electrons, bond energy, ionic complexes, ions, and isotopes will be introduced at the high school level.


  • Books or information on the different models of the atom
  • Poster paper
  • Markers, crayons, colored pencils
  • Computer lab if doing PowerPoint
  • Student Worksheet


Instructional Procedures:

  1. Hook activity: ask students to work in groups and write down every word they can think of that has to do with the atom. Have a member of each group come to the board and write down 2-3 terms that no one else has written yet. See how large a list each class can make
  2. Assign each student (groups of four) one of the atomic models & give them time to find the information and fill it out on the student sheet. (30-40 min)
  3. Have students with the same model get together and share what they learned, and check each others’ information. (10 min)
  4. Back in their original groups, students can make a poster, foldable book or power point presentation to summarize their work and the work of others. (25 min) Once they have created their product, have groups share by reading each others’ work. (10-15 min)
  5. Give each student a copy of the Atom History Notes, and arrange them into larger groups including each of the models (Dalton, Thompson, Rutherford, Bohr). Have the students discuss who should present first and why.
  6. As students are presenting, the others in the group should be filling in the notes on that model. (50 min)

Assessment Plan:
Atom History Research-----------Points

  1. Included adequate & relevant information on the assigned model. Uses complete sentences.-----15
  2. Diagram/drawing of the assigned model that is colorful & neat----15
  3. Explains how model represents the atom----15

Atom History Notes

  • 10 points for accurately completing each section and using complete sentences-----40


  • Students participate in preparing for the presentation-----10
  • Students participate in the actual presentation---10
  • Student record the information presented by other groups.------10

Lesson Design by Jordan School District Teachers and Staff.

Utah LessonPlans

Created Date :
Sep 29 2014 11:38 AM