## Introduction: 3D Printed Atomic Models

Let's provide an enrichment and reinforcement activity for students in Physical Science on Atomic structure using students’ knowledge and understanding of the topic from their Science lessons! This lesson was a collaboration between 8th grade Science teachers and the Library's Makerspace to support student learning by making something awesome.

Middle school students in Virginia will reinforce their learning of atomic models by exploring hands-on project-based learning using 3D modeling in this multi-day, cross-curricular project.

Grade Level: 6-8

VA SOL Standards Integration:

PS.1 The student will demonstrate an understanding of scientific and engineering practices by

e) developing and using models construct, develop, and use models and simulations to illustrate and/or explain observable and unobservable phenomena evaluate limitations of models

PS.4 The student will investigate and understand that the periodic table is a model used to organize elements based on their atomic structure. Key uses include a) symbols, atomic numbers, atomic mass, chemical groups (families), and periods are identified on the periodic table; and

Learning Objectives:

Students will submit a 3D file of their completed atoms to the library to be printed. Students will also submit a screenshot of the final project to their teacher’s Canvas pages. The criteria for assessment will include the following:

Symbol (Correct atomic symbol, ensure correct capitalization)

Mass Number (shown as a numeral somewhere on the model)

Electron Shell (correct number of electron shells based on understanding of number of electrons limited to each shell)

Number of Electrons (using their understanding of atomic mass, students will place the correct number of electrons on each shell)

Nucleus Size (Nucleus size is based on the atomic mass number)

## Supplies

Amazing Science teachers to collaborate with

Access to 3D printers

3D modeling tool, like Tinkercad

## Step 1: Creating Knowledge Base for Students

Our Physical Science teachers requested a way to transform their unit on Atomic models into an opportunity to employ Project-based Learning. In our planning meeting, we mapped out the following based on our state standards and our learning objectives:

(Virginia) SOL Standards Integration:

PS.1 The student will demonstrate an understanding of scientific and engineering practices by

e) developing and using models construct, develop, and use models and simulations to illustrate and/or explain observable and unobservable phenomena evaluate limitations of models

(Virginia) PS.4 The student will investigate and understand that the periodic table is a model used to organize elements based on their atomic structure. Key uses include a) symbols, atomic numbers, atomic mass, chemical groups (families), and periods are identified on the periodic table; and

Students will employ their understanding of atomic structure and knowledge of the vocabulary of atomic structure to apply their knowledge to the building of atomic models using 3D modeling software.

Science teachers will use resources like the included slides to teach their students the vocabulary and understanding of the physical elements of atomic structures.

### Attachments

## Step 2: Collaborative Planning

With the students' knowledge including the following vocabulary terms:

Proton, Neutron, Atomic Number, Electron, Electron Shell, Symbol, Mass Number

we will plan the makerspace integration.

Students will apply this vocabulary to build 3D models of assigned atomic elements using 3D modeling software Tinkercad. Students will demonstrate their knowledge through the successful creation of atomic models based on the criteria below. This creative process will allow students to apply their understanding to create an authentic model in a new format (3D modeling), increasing the relevancy of the project and engaging student interest.

(See the student handout for the project.)

## Step 3: Signing Into the Platform

After going through our school's policies, I learned that creating a Tinkercad "class" was the best and simplest way to bring students into the modeling platform using their school Google sign ins. See this blog post for more about Tinkercad classrooms: https://www.tinkercad.com/blog/official-guide-to-tinkercad-classrooms I created a handout that our Science teachers could add to their digital student platforms which would expedite the process of getting students into Tinkercad to begin their projects. This process took about 10 minutes.

## Step 4: Starting Modeling

Students were assigned their specific atoms individually, but as a class, they followed a demonstration of how to build an atomic model that covered the components that we discussed and were a part of the assignment. The following are our notes about student assessment:

Students will produce accurate 3D models of assigned atoms using the 3D design tool, Tinkercad. Students will create this using their knowledge of the following terms:

Proton, Neutron, Atomic Number, Electron, Electron Shell, Symbol, Mass Number

Assessment: Students will submit a 3D file of their completed atoms to the library to be printed. Students will also submit a screenshot of the final project to their teacher’s Canvas pages. The criteria for assessment will include the following:

Symbol (Correct atomic symbol, ensure correct capitalization)

Mass Number (shown as a numeral somewhere on the model)

Electron Shell (correct number of electron shells based on an understanding of the number of electrons limited to each shell)

Number of Electrons (using their understanding of atomic mass, students will place the correct number of electrons on each shell)

Nucleus Size (Nucleus size is based on the atomic mass number)

## Step 5: Designing (Step-By-Step)

The step-by-step instructions for students on how to design their atoms included the following steps. The time took about 30-40 minutes.

- Students will sign into their Canvas pages and access the links to this project
- Students will start a new Tinkercad project
- Students will learn how to place objects on the workplane and size them correctly. (Max project size is 100x100x20 mm)
- Students will place their nucleus (20x20x10 "Cylinder") and add the atomic symbol (symbol and mass number using "Text")
- Science teacher will reinforce the relationship between Atomic Mass Number and determining the number of electron shells and electrons on an atom.
- Students will learn how to place electrons onto the shells. (These were a "Tube" about a 1.5 mm wall thickness at about 35x35x10 mm and then 50x50x10 mm and then 70x70x10 mm depending on how many shells are needed.)
- Students will complete an atomic model by adding electrons using one of many choices to represent "Paraboloid" is a good choice, but stars, hearts or cones work well too. Size to fit the electron shells.
- After checking the assessment criteria, students will take a screenshot of their 3D model and submit to Canvas. They can then download the .STL and submit to the library for 3D printing.

## Step 6: One More Step!

Just when you think you have all the elements of an atomic model, we have to remind students that 3D printing requires another step. In order for all the shells to be connected to the nucleus, we need to add a final element to connect the various parts of the atom together. (See the red bar in the example.) Adding a small, thin cube sized to run through all shells and nucleus will keep all the pieces together. We printed over 200 students models and most remembered this step!

## Step 7: You Don't Have to Print These...

We had students submit a screenshot of their finished model immediately as they finished their designs. This allowed teachers to have everything that we needed to being to grade the work and provide feedback. With access to lots of 3D printers though, we wanted to give students an example of their work. It still took us over a week (and weekend) to print about 200 models! If appropriately sized (most were about 75x75x10 mm), they printed in under an hour each and you could put 4 to 6 on one build plate. The students loved having their atomic models and it was a true capstone to this unit's learning!

(See included .STL for Nitrogen if you are eager to print one today!)

This is an entry in the

Project-Based Learning Contest

## 2 Comments

7 days ago

¡¡¡Excelente idea!!!

7 days ago

This is so cool, wish I had these in school!