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Characteristics of Electrons

In this segment, students build models of atoms as they learn about characteristics of electrons. They also explore how quantum levels affect fireworks by performing a flame test.

In this segment, the students build models of elements and learn how quantum levels affect fireworks.

Premiere Date: July 10, 2016 | Runtime: 00:17:43

Support Materials


Flame Tests of Metal Ions Lab
Unit 3C Electrons in Atoms Practice Problems
Unit 3C Note Taking Guide & Segment Questions
Unit 3C Predicting Ionic Trends

Science & Engineering Practices

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

Students should have opportunities to plan and carry out several different kinds of investigations during their K-12 years. At all levels, they should engage in investigations that range from those structured by the teacher—in order to expose an issue or question that they would be unlikely to explore on their own (e.g., measuring specific properties of materials)— to those that emerge from students’ own questions. (NRC Framework, 2012, p. 61)


anion - a negatively charged ion.

atomic number - the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom. 

atomic radius - the distance from the atom's nucleus to the outermost energy level. 

average atomic mass - a weighted average of all of the isotopes of that element in the universe. 

cation - a positively charged ion. 

effective nuclear charge (Zsubeff) - the net positive charge experienced by the valence electrons from the nucleus. 

electron - a tiny particle with a negative charge that is found outside the nucleus of an atom. 

electron configuration - the order in which electrons are arranged in an atom. 

electronegativity - the ability of an atom to attract additional electrons. 

energy sublevel - a smaller part within a primary energy level. 

excited state - an atom, ion or molecule with an electron in a higher than normal energy level than its ground state. 

ground state - the lowest energy state within electron orbitals. 

Hund's Rule - When placing electrons in equal energy orbitals, electrons should not be paired until each equal energy orbital contains one electron. 

ion - an atom with a positive or negative charge. 

ionization energy - the amount of energy required to remove one valence electron from an atom.

isotope - the same element with different numbers of neutrons.

model - a physical, conceptual, or mathematical representation of a real phenomenon whose purpose is to explain and predict the observed phenomenon. 

orbital - a region of space around the nucleus of an atom where an electron is likely to be found. 

Pauli exclusion principle - when an orbital holds two electrons, the electrons much have opposite spin. 

quantum - a specific amount of energy that can be absorbed by an electron as it moves from ground state to excited state, or released by an electron as it falls from the excited state back to ground state. 

subatomic- any smaller part of an atom such as a proton, neutron, or electron. 

valence electrons - electrons on the outer-most energy level of any atom. 

valence shell - the outer-most energy level of an electron. 

Georgia Standards of Excellence

SC1Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the use of the modern atomic theory and periodic law to explain the characteristics of atoms and elements.

SC1.aEvaluate the merits and limitations of different models of the atom in relation to relative size, charge, and position of protons, neutrons, and electrons in the atom.

SC1.bConstruct an argument to support the claim that the proton (and not the neutron or electron) defines the element’s identity.

SC1.eConstruct an explanation of light emission and the movement of electrons to identify elements.

SC1.fUse the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms (including atomic radii, ionization energy, and electronegativity of various elements).

SPS1Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information from the Periodic Table to explain the relative properties of elements based on patterns of atomic structure.

SPS1.aDevelop and use models to compare and contrast the structure of atoms, ions and isotopes.
(Clarification statement: Properties include atomic number, atomic mass and the location and charge of subatomic particles.)

SPS1.bAnalyze and interpret data to determine trends of the following:
• number of valence electrons
• types of ions formed by main group elements
• location and properties of metals, nonmetals, and metalloids
• phases at room temperature

SPS1.cUse the Periodic Table as a model to predict the above properties of main group elements.

S8P1Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the structure and properties of matter.

S8P1.eDevelop models (e.g., atomic-level models, including drawings, and computer representations) by analyzing patterns within the periodic table that illustrate the structure, composition, and characteristics of atoms (including protons, neutrons, and electrons) and simple molecules.

Request Teacher Toolkit

The Chemistry Matters teacher toolkit provides instructions and answer keys for labs, experiments, and assignments for all 12 units of study. GPB offers the teacher toolkit at no cost to Georgia educators. Complete and submit this form to request the teacher toolkit. You only need to submit this form one time to get materials for all 12 units of study.