How to Make a 3D Project of Protons, Neutrons and Electrons

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Use distinct colors for the protons, the neutrons and the electrons.
Use distinct colors for the protons, the neutrons and the electrons. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

A three-dimensional model of the subatomic particles can help science novices understand the structure of an atom, which is why it's a popular project assignment among teachers. Each atom is composed of a certain amount of protons and neutrons forming the nucleus and electrons arranged in distinct energy levels. You can depict this structure using simple materials, such as clay and wooden skewers. Unless you have to build the model of a certain atom, choose an element from the periodic table with a small number of protons, electrons and neutrons, such as Beryllium.

Things You'll Need

  • Three colors of clay
  • Wooden skewers
  • Ruler
  • Glue

Form five balls of clay to depict the neutrons. Each ball's diameter must measure 1 inch. Form four 1-inch balls, using a different color of clay, to create the protons.

Make a large ball out of the proton and neutron spheres, to form the nucleus. Don't press the spheres together too hard, as they must not lose their shape. Blend the particles—don't place protons on one side and neutrons on the other—to create a homogeneous core.

Make four 1-inch spheres, using your third clay color, to depict the electrons. Unless you depict an ion, the amount of electrons must equal the amount of protons. Break two wooden skewers, reducing their length by a quarter.

Place two electron balls on the tip of the two wooden skewers. Stick the other end of two wooden skewers on the core, facing different directions. This way, you keep the same distance between the electrons and the core, depicting the energy levels, while creating a three-dimensional model.

Break a wooden skewer in half and place the remaining two electron clay spheres on the pieces' tips. Stick their other ends in the core, as you did with the initial two skewers.

Form a solid base for your atom model with the remaining amount of clay. Glue four wooden skewers together and stick one end on the core and another end on the base, completing your 3D model of the subatomic particles.

References

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