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published by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
In this classroom activity for grades 7-9, students use white marshmallows for protons and colored marshmallows for neutrons to construct atomic nuclei. The web site provides a student worksheet, but the idea could work for other atomic configurations. The activity can be adapted from very simple atomic models (stable atoms) to more complex isotopes.

See Related Materials for background information by the same authors on the structure of the nucleus.
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- Active Learning
= Modeling
Modern Physics
- Nuclear Physics
= Models of the Nucleus
- Middle School
- High School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Model
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© 2006 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Keywords:
Alpha Decay, Fission, Nuclear Science, Radioactivity, isotope, neutron, nuclear structure, nucleus, proton
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created July 17, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
July 17, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
December 22, 2008

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4D. The Structure of Matter
  • 6-8: 4D/M1b. The atoms of any element are like other atoms of the same element, but are different from the atoms of other elements.
  • 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.
  • 9-12: 4D/H3. Although neutrons have little effect on how an atom interacts with other atoms, the number of neutrons does affect the mass and stability of the nucleus. Isotopes of the same element have the same number of protons (and therefore of electrons) but differ in the number of neutrons.
  • 9-12: 4D/H4. The nucleus of radioactive isotopes is unstable and spontaneously decays, emitting particles and/or wavelike radiation. It cannot be predicted exactly when, if ever, an unstable nucleus will decay, but a large group of identical nuclei decay at a predictable rate. This predictability of decay rate allows radioactivity to be used for estimating the age of materials that contain radioactive substances.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M1. Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.
  • 6-8: 11B/M6. A model can sometimes be used to get ideas about how the thing being modeled actually works, but there is no guarantee that these ideas are correct if they are based on the model alone.
  • 9-12: 11B/H5. The behavior of a physical model cannot ever be expected to represent the full-scale phenomenon with complete accuracy, not even in the limited set of characteristics being studied. The inappropriateness of a model may be related to differences between the model and what is being modeled.

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.


Topic: Particles and Interactions and the Standard Model
Unit Title: Teaching Nanoscale Science

In this classroom activity for grades 7-9, students use white marshmallows for protons and colored marshmallows for neutrons to construct atomic nuclei. The web site provides a student worksheet, but the idea could work for other atomic configurations. The activity can be adapted from very simple atomic models (stable atoms) to more complex isotopes.

Link to Unit:
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
(Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, 2006), WWW Document, (http://www.lbl.gov/abc/marsh-nuclei/index.html).
AJP/PRST-PER
ABC's of Nuclear Science: Marshmallow Nuclei (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, 2006), <http://www.lbl.gov/abc/marsh-nuclei/index.html>.
APA Format
ABC's of Nuclear Science: Marshmallow Nuclei. (2008, December 22). Retrieved July 24, 2014, from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: http://www.lbl.gov/abc/marsh-nuclei/index.html
Chicago Format
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. ABC's of Nuclear Science: Marshmallow Nuclei. Berkeley: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, December 22, 2008. http://www.lbl.gov/abc/marsh-nuclei/index.html (accessed 24 July 2014).
MLA Format
ABC's of Nuclear Science: Marshmallow Nuclei. Berkeley: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2006. 22 Dec. 2008. 24 July 2014 <http://www.lbl.gov/abc/marsh-nuclei/index.html>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {ABC's of Nuclear Science: Marshmallow Nuclei}, Publisher = {Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory}, Volume = {2014}, Number = {24 July 2014}, Month = {December 22, 2008}, Year = {2006} }
Refer Export Format

%T ABC's of Nuclear Science: Marshmallow Nuclei
%D December 22, 2008
%I Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
%C Berkeley
%U http://www.lbl.gov/abc/marsh-nuclei/index.html
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D December 22, 2008
%T ABC's of Nuclear Science: Marshmallow Nuclei
%I Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
%V 2014
%N 24 July 2014
%8 December 22, 2008
%9 text/html
%U http://www.lbl.gov/abc/marsh-nuclei/index.html


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ABC's of Nuclear Science: Marshmallow Nuclei:

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This tutorial provides background information to supplement the classroom activity "Marshmallow Nuclei".

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