Click a term to initiate a search.
Teaching electron configuration
In response to a question on ways to teach electron configuration to students, here's a model I used with my 8th graders. We had been using beans to represent and build 2D models of atoms (green lentils = electrons, white beans = protons, black beans = neutrons). I made a handout for them to help them understand the idea of where electrons like to go when they are added (download it at the bottom of this page).
I tell them to envision a football stadium where different people are assigned different seats. Generally, people want to sit closest to the field (the nucleus) so they can be nearest the action. Also, different sections of this stadium have more cushy seats than others - first come, first served. Thus, certain subshells fill before others in a given orbital.
The diagram (and the handout attached below) represents an electron seating chart view of the atom. I have kids build larger and larger atoms using the diagram as a "placemat" to place each electron.
With middle school kids, I don't go into orbital shapes or quantum theory but that could be an additional layer to extend this basic idea.