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This handout guides students through the virtual lab "Building an Atom" simulation found for free at phet.colorado.edu. This activity works well as the "explore" phase of the 5e model for a unit on atomic structure or as a quick review for students who have learned atomic structure before.
This is an inquiry-based approach to the simulation, where students are directed to play around and determine which subatomic particles (protons, neutrons, and electrons) affect the mass, charge, and name of an atom.
I use this virtual lab as a review for High School students who have learned atomic structure before, but have a hard time remembering the basics and need to review before we start Nuclear Chemistry.
Since this activity is student-directed and they are determining the relationships themselves through exploration, I find that they have an easier time remembering the function of each particle than if I reviewed using notes.
More products from this unit (Atomic Structure and Nuclear Chemistry) are linked below.