What will students learn as
a result of this lesson?
- Describe that matter is made of minute particles
called atoms and atoms are comprised of even smaller compounds. Explain
the structure and properties of atoms.
- Explain how atoms react with each other to form
other substances and how molecules react with each other or other atoms to
form even difference substances.
- Trace the historical development of scientific
theories and ideas, and describe emerging issues in the study of physical
- Explain how atoms and molecules can gain or lose
energy in particular discrete amounts (quanta or packets; therefore they
can only absorb or emit light at the wavelengths corresponding to these
- Use historical examples to explain how new ideas
are limited by the context in which they are conceived; are often
initially rejected by the scientific establishment; sometimes spring from
unexpected findings; and usually grow slowly through contributions form
many different investigators (e.g., atomic theory, quantum theory, nuclear
- Describe concepts/ideas in physical sciences that
have important, long-lasting effects on science and society (e.g., atomic
theory, quantum theory, nuclear energy).
Although, I have listed
several standards that this lesson covers, one of the main ideas that I want
students to realize is that an individual scientist does not start from
scratch. They build there work on what has already been discovered. That
sometimes other scientist’s (or investigators) might not agree with them.
For example, Democritus and the atom – Aristotle did not think his idea
had merit and so most people believed him and not much happen with the concept
of the atom for 2000 years. And then Dalton continued from that initial concept
of the atom. Then Thomson, Rutherford, Bohr, Schrödinger all contributed
to the current concept of the atom – all of them taking the previous
theory of the atom and changing, revising, adding and deleting parts of the
theory. For example, Dalton thought the atom was indivisible – we now know
that is divisible. The atomic model is a dynamic one – in that nothing is
constant. The students should hopefully start to get the sense of how exciting
science and research is. Imagine
what Rutherford thought when electrons bounced back,
instead of going straight through in his gold foil experiment? He used the
example to describe his feelings by saying “it was like shooting a bullet
at a piece of tissue paper and having it bounce back at you”. One of the
labs that fits in well with this unit is the Flame Lab; the students actually
can see what happens when electrons change energy levels (quantum theory).
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