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published by the Visionlearning
written by Anthony Carpi
supported by the National Science Foundation
Available Languages: English, Spanish
This classroom-tested learning module gives a condensed, easily-understood view of the development of atomic theory from the late 19th through early 20th century. The key idea was the discovery that the atom is not an "indivisible" particle, but consists of smaller constituents: the proton, neutron, and electron. It discusses the contributions of John Dalton, J.J. Thomson, Ernest Rutherford, and James Chadwick, whose experiments revolutionized the world view of atomic structure. See Related Materials for a link to Part 2 of this series.

Please note that this resource requires Flash.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
General Physics
- History
Modern Physics
- Atomic Physics
= Atomic Models
- High School
- Middle School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Curriculum support
= Problem/Problem Set
= Tutorial
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- Activity
- Assessment
- New teachers
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Intended Users:
Learner
Educator
Formats:
text/html
application/flash
Access Rights:
Free access
Restriction:
© 2003 VisionLearning
Additional information is available.
Keywords:
atomic structure, cathode ray experiment, electron, helium atom, history of atom, history of the atom, hydrogen atom, neutron, proton
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created July 12, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
October 10, 2012 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
January 1, 2006

Slightly oversimplified

Author: Mary Salit
Posted: December 25, 2011 at 8:32AM

In general this resource is a good introduction to the subject, and the misconceptions that it promotes are fairly minor and common ones. I understand that it may not be within the scope of the article to introduce quantum mechanics, etc. However, I could wish that it were written with a few more disclaimers, and a few hints that there is more to the story than what is told here. I am afraid that by oversimplifying it might give students the feeling that they understand completely, when, in fact, they don't. Not only does this lead to subtley wrong understandings of nature (which those who go on to become scientists will have to unlearn) but I think it makes the subject much less interesting. It is the mysteries which make physics exciting, and this subject is full of them, but this resource creates the impression that everything about atomic physics is well understood and easily explained, which may make it boring to students.

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AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4D. The Structure of Matter
  • 6-8: 4D/M1a. All matter is made up of atoms, which are far too small to see directly through a microscope.
  • 9-12: 4D/H1. Atoms are made of a positively charged nucleus surrounded by negatively charged electrons. The nucleus is a tiny fraction of the volume of an atom but makes up almost all of its mass. The nucleus is composed of protons and neutrons which have roughly the same mass but differ in that protons are positively charged while neutrons have no electric charge.
  • 9-12: 4D/H2. The number of protons in the nucleus determines what an atom's electron configuration can be and so defines the element. An atom's electron configuration, particularly the outermost electrons, determines how the atom can interact with other atoms. Atoms form bonds to other atoms by transferring or sharing electrons.

10. Historical Perspectives

10F. Understanding Fire
  • 9-12: 10F/H1. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, the idea of atoms reemerged in response to questions about the structure of matter, the nature of fire, and the basis of chemical phenomena.
  • 9-12: 10F/H3. In the early 1800s, British chemist and physicist John Dalton united the concepts of atoms and elements. He proposed two ideas that laid the groundwork for modern chemistry: first, that elements are formed from small, indivisible particles called atoms, which are identical for a given element but different from any other element; and second, that chemical compounds are formed from atoms by combining a definite number of each type of atom to form one molecule of the compound.
  • 9-12: 10F/H4. Dalton figured out how the relative weights of the atoms could be determined experimentally. His idea that every substance had a unique atomic composition provided an explanation for why substances were made up of elements in specific proportions.

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.


Topic: Particles and Interactions and the Standard Model
Unit Title: History and Discovery

This classroom-tested learning module gives a condensed, easily-understood view of the development of atomic theory from the late 19th through early 20th century. The key idea was the discovery that the atom is not an "indivisible" particle, but consists of smaller constituents: the proton, neutron, and electron. It discusses the contributions of John Dalton, J.J. Thomson, Ernest Rutherford, and James Chadwick, whose experiments revolutionized the world view of atomic structure.

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
A. Carpi, (Visionlearning, 2003), WWW Document, (http://www.visionlearning.com/library/module_viewer.php?mid=50&l=).
AJP/PRST-PER
A. Carpi, Visionlearning: Atomic Theory I, (Visionlearning, 2003), <http://www.visionlearning.com/library/module_viewer.php?mid=50&l=>.
APA Format
Carpi, A. (2006, January 1). Visionlearning: Atomic Theory I. Retrieved October 2, 2014, from Visionlearning: http://www.visionlearning.com/library/module_viewer.php?mid=50&l=
Chicago Format
Carpi, Anthony. Visionlearning: Atomic Theory I. Visionlearning, January 1, 2006. http://www.visionlearning.com/library/module_viewer.php?mid=50&l= (accessed 2 October 2014).
MLA Format
Carpi, Anthony. Visionlearning: Atomic Theory I. Visionlearning, 2003. 1 Jan. 2006. National Science Foundation. 2 Oct. 2014 <http://www.visionlearning.com/library/module_viewer.php?mid=50&l=>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Anthony Carpi", Title = {Visionlearning: Atomic Theory I}, Publisher = {Visionlearning}, Volume = {2014}, Number = {2 October 2014}, Month = {January 1, 2006}, Year = {2003} }
Refer Export Format

%A Anthony Carpi
%T Visionlearning: Atomic Theory I
%D January 1, 2006
%I Visionlearning
%U http://www.visionlearning.com/library/module_viewer.php?mid=50&l=
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%A Carpi, Anthony
%D January 1, 2006
%T Visionlearning: Atomic Theory I
%I Visionlearning
%V 2014
%N 2 October 2014
%8 January 1, 2006
%9 text/html
%U http://www.visionlearning.com/library/module_viewer.php?mid=50&l=


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The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

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Visionlearning: Atomic Theory I:

Accompanies Visionlearning: Atomic Theory II

A link to Part 2 of Visionlearning's Atomic Theory, which focuses on the discovery of ions, isotopes, and the electron shell model.

relation by Caroline Hall

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