Posts Tagged ‘atoms’

LEGO Atomic Structure

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015


A fun hands-on activity for studying chemistry is to build a LEGO atomic structure, including the protons, neutrons, and electrons of each atom. Each of your atomic models will help to re-enforce the Periodic Table of Elements as you seek to find out how to build each one.

The LEGO atom at the top of this post is an Oxygen atom. The nucleus contains 8 protons and 8 neutrons. The protons are red, and the neutrons are black. The 8 electrons are blue LEGOs that are placed on top of white LEGO rings. The inner shell has 2 electrons and the outer shell has 6 electrons, making a total of 8 electrons.


The Neon atom has 10 protons, 10 neutrons, and 10 electrons. Go ahead and build the Neon atom, just as you built the Oxygen atom, including the correct amount of black, red, and blue LEGOs.

Continue to build more elements. The more elements you build, the more familiar you will become with the atomic numbers. Handling the LEGOs physically will help your tactile learners re-enforce the learning to make it unforgettable. You will need to have a Periodic Table of Elements open in order to build the atoms correctly. The atomic number is the number of protons and electrons in the atom, and these are always the same number. To find the number of neutrons, subtract the protons from the atomic number. Easy!

If you would like to build atomic models out of styrofoam balls or candy, take a look at this post:

For more posts about chemistry, check out my chemistry series, which includes fun demonstration videos for each hands-on activity:

Also check out the fun coloring book we used during our study to help familiarize ourselves with the Periodic Table of Elements:

I hope you enjoyed building at least one LEGO atomic structure!

#5 How to Build Atomic Models

Monday, September 1st, 2014

atomic-modelsThis post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

Today I will show you how to build atomic models with styrofoam balls and with candy. You will see two very different models, and yet the protons, neutrons, and electrons are in the same locations. My kids are using the book Christian Kids Explore Chemistry by Bright Ideas Press. We are learning the composition of an atom.

In the center of the atom is the nucleus. The nucleus is composed of protons and neutrons. The electrons are much smaller, and they spin in a cloud around the nucleus.

When making a styrofoam model of a Lithium atom, you need 7 two-inch styrofoam balls and 3 one-inch styrofoam balls. Lithium has 3 protons (which you paint blue), 4 neutrons (which you paint yellow), and 3 electrons (which you paint red). We used acrylic paint because it’s brighter than tempera paint, and it sinks into the texture of the styrofoam. After painting the styrofoam balls, let them dry overnight.

The next day stab the yellow and blue balls together with toothpicks until the balls are touching. This is the nucleus. Now stab the three red balls further away with toothpicks. These are electrons. You have completed your atomic model of Lithium.

candy-atomNow let’s make a candy atom just for fun, so that you can see a variety of atomic models. You could also use play doh or clay to make atomic models. But candy tastes good, so let’s use candy.

We are about to make an Oxygen atom. Grab 8 green protons and 8 red neutrons. These are gum drops, and if they stick together, fine. If the nucleus isn’t sticking together, snap toothpicks in half and stab the red and green candies together. It should look like Christmas. Now grab two black pipe cleaners and twist them to make a circle. Watch the video at the bottom of this blog post to see how easy it is. Grab two more pipe cleaners and do the same thing, making a wider circle. Now watch how I place the 8 yellow electrons on the electron shells. I don’t actually stab the gumdrops. I show you a trick for how to attach the electrons: