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Bristow, Sadie Volta School
1. The students will understand atomic structure from an historical
2. The students will understand the process of solving problems by
using indirect evidence.
3. The students will be able to locate the three basic parts of a atom
on a diagram.
1 ball 1 large box
1 pop can 100 marbles
1 wooden block
3 small boxes
1. Place the ball in one of the small boxes, the wooden block in
another box, and the 2 nails in the last box.
2. Give each group one box and ask them if they could figure a way
of determining what's inside the box without opening it.
3. Students will shake the box etc. to determine its contents.
4. Discuss the process of using indirect evidence and how scientist
have used this process to determine atomic structure.
5. Give a brief history of atomic structure.
6. Create a story about a monster in a dark cave. Ask the students
how can they determine the size of the monster.
Hint: Lord Ernest Rutherford in the early 1900s used the equation:
Hits divided by throws equals the effective size of the nucleus
(in your case the monster) divided by the effective size of the
atom (in your case the cave).
7. Give students a large box (about 50 cm to represent the cave), a
empty can (representing the monster), and a bag of marbles.
8. Students will test Rutherford's equation. Instruct students to
close or cover the eyes of the person rolling the marbles at the
monster. The box should be open at the top so whenever the can or
monster is hit it can be moved. The box should have a slit in the
front and back at bottom for the marbles to enter and exit. The
last thing to remember is that the number of throws is only the
marbles that went into the box.
9. After students have discussed their results briefly explain Ernest
Rutherford's experiment to determine the size of the nucleus of an
atom and that most of the atom is empty space.