Cell Unit Study - Week 2 - Atoms

Week 2: We built atoms out of gumdrops, marshmallows and toothpicks.

Did you know that out of the 92 elements which exist naturally, the gross majority of our bodies are made up of only four? Hydrogen, Carbon, Nitrogen and Oxygen.

Welcome to week 2 of our cell unit study. We are following the book The Way We Work by David Macaulay to learn about cells. Since cells are constructed from atoms that's where our study begins. It takes around 100 trillion atoms to make a cell and around 100 trillion cells to make a human....... Atoms are very small! 

The nucleus of atoms are filled with protons and neutrons while the electrons fly around the nucleus. We began with this simple sketch of the four main types of atoms found in humans. The sketch also served as a direction sheet for building our atoms.

The sketch of hydrogen on the right, shows the nucleus with one electron. We used red gumdrops to represent hydrogen's nucleus, a blue toothpick to represent the first ring of electrons, and a marshmallow for the electron.

Carbon contains six electrons. Two fill the first ring connected to the orange carbon nucleus with blue toothpicks, and the remaining four in the second ring are connected to the nucleus with orange toothpicks.

The same pattern was followed with Nitrogen and Oxygen.
Here are the raw materials.
Red gumdrops = Hydrogen nucleus
Orange gumdrops = Carbon nucleus
Purple gumdrops = Oxygen nucleus
Green gumdrops = Nitrogen nucleus
Marshmallows = Electrons
Blue toothpicks = First ring of electrons
Orange toothpicks = Second ring of electrons

 A nitrogen atom being built.

Completed nitrogen atoms.

Here you can find our other cell and science activities.

This post is linked to:
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  1. We did this too and the kids loved it.

  2. This is way too cool. You start them early on atoms :)

  3. I LOVE your science lessons, they are so cool.

    Thanks for linking up to Science Sunday!

  4. I'm pretty sure I've never seen this done showing the electrons in the lower levels! I love how you have different colored straws for this! GREAT! I LOVE it! Not sure my 5 year old is ready for this (how old is your daughter?) but my middle schoolers would love it...of course, any activity you eat afterward is awesome! Thanks for linking up to our STEM Themed linky!

    Darci the STEM Mom

    1. The older kids are 9 and 11. My 6 year old participates sometimes. She definitely doesn't want to be left out and may not fully grasp what's going on, but is learning new words and that there are smaller things in the world than we can see.

  5. I love this idea, and keep meaning to try it with my children.

    Thanks so much for linking to Science Sparks.


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