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Construction of an Atomic Model

Construction of an Atomic Model

It is not possible to create a scaled model of an atom. The proportion of distance between the nucleus and electrons cannot be exactly maintained in models. This article is an attempt to help you construct an atomic model.
Shashank Nakate
Last Updated: Apr 20, 2018
An atom is the smallest part of matter and it cannot be further broken down into two. The atoms of different elements found in nature possess a certain, set number of protons, electrons, and neutrons. Creating an atomic model should be a fun activity for kids. It is necessary that you first understand what makes up an atom, i.e., the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons in it. For beginners, it is better to use an element with less number of these atom components. 
Different Atomic Models
The level of difficulty of making an atomic model will depend on the theory that you will refer. The scale modeling technique cannot be used, since maintaining the exact proportion in model creation is not possible. Four models of atomic structure have been designed by scientists. They are the planetary model, Bohr model, refined Bohr model, and the Quantum model. The Quantum model is the latest and most widely accepted atomic model. However, it is difficult to build a structure based on this atomic model. This is because, unlike in other atomic models, the position of electrons in the Quantum model is not fixed. In the planetary model, electrons are depicted as revolving in a circular orbit around the nucleus. As per the Bohr model, electrons revolve around the nucleus not in a single circular orbit. Instead, the electrons revolve close to or away from nucleus, depending on the energy levels they fit into.
The information presented in this article states the steps that need to be followed to make an atomic model. For the sake of this article, we focus on the nitrogen atom. A nitrogen atom is formed of 7 protons, 7 neutrons, and 7 electrons. These components (protons, neutrons and electrons) are neither too less nor too great in number. Creating a model of this atom should therefore, be easy for kids.
In the planetary model parts of an atom, the protons and neutrons are situated at the center. The central portion of an atom is known as nucleus. Electrons revolve around the nucleus in a circular path. This revolution of electrons resembles that of planets in the solar system. A wooden base measuring 8 sq. inch. would suffice. This base helps in mounting all components of the atom. To make the protons, neutrons, and electrons, you require spherical objects. Let us understand the process of making such a model in a step-by-step manner.
  • First drill a hole in the wooden base. This hole should be at the center of the wooden base.
  • The hole made in the wooden base should be used to glue a rod. The rod is meant for mounting the nucleus of the atom.
  • A foam ball needs to be used for making the nucleus. Cut the foam ball into two halves. This will help in depicting components present inside the nucleus.
  • One of the halves of this foam ball should be glued to the wooden rod.
  • After the nucleus has been made, it is time to make the protons, and neutrons. The Styrofoam balls used to make the protons and neutrons need to be smaller in size than the one used for nucleus. The balls used as protons can be given different colors than those meant for neutrons.
  • Smaller Styrofoam balls should be added to the larger one which is meant for nucleus.
  • The next step is to create circular rings and electrons which slide on these rings.
  • Take a circular-shaped wire and the Styrofoam balls that were meant for creating electrons and slide them over this ring.
  • A comparatively stiff wire should be used in making a base for the ring. 
You might have noticed that it requires more time to prepare and assemble the requirements for making an atomic model, than the actual process does. You could also refer to model-making to gain some additional knowledge. This activity will not only help kids enjoy the craft, but will also, definitely increase their knowledge about atoms and other topics related to it.