Each student chose a specific element, researched facts about that element, and modeled an atom of that element with great accuracy, creativity and complexity. The results are amazing.
“Children used interesting materials, suggesting characteristics of the actual element,” comments Middle School science teacher Mrs. Beeny Finkelstein. “For Arsenic, Mr. Yuk stickers were used as atomic particles and a skull was the part of the model because of the poisonous nature of Arsenic.”
“Some models lit up. Some models turned. All models were spectacular this year. There are too many fabulous projects to describe in detail,” adds Mrs. Finkelstein. Middle School science and math teacher Mr. Zachary Kuter points out that the creative interpretations of the students’ research was entirely their own, “designing and building them without their teachers telling them what to do.”
Katie K. ‘24 used Arduino
, an open-source hardware and software “ecosystem,” to activate the LED lights representing atomic particles like protons, neutrons and electrons in a model and make them light up. “She actually wrote the code that sent a set of instructions to a microcontroller, programming it to make a very unique Iodine atom model,” notes Mrs. Finkelstein.
After doing the research, students wrote an information card detailing their selected atom’s common uses and unique facts about the element.
“It was a real learning experience and the children enjoyed the process,” says Mrs. Finkelstein. “But making chemistry come alive was the bonus. Now the children can see how elements truly shape our world.”
This year, a new “element” was added to the project. The sixth graders researched not only the element’s properties, but also its common uses and facts of particular interest.
“What was special this year about the projects was the way the students applied their knowledge and made connections between chemistry and everyday life,” observes Mrs. Finkelstein. “The atom models reflected the enduring understanding that chemistry truly shapes our world.”
View the Sixth Grade Atom Project slideshow: