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This is my first attempt at drawing in paint. Please don’t laugh. I wanted to have a picture sitting at the top of my post. I get nervous about grabbing pictures from other places. To avoid any kind of issue, I made my own. It is sad but colorful!

After telling you that I was going to move into Module 4 after Module 3, I changed my mind. I decided that I wanted to move into Module 7. I am glad that I did. We had good results. I think it is because we have been focusing so much on the periodic table that this was an easy module to move into.

What is important in Module 7.

  • Electrical Charge. Like charges repel and opposite charges attract. This is one of those things that the kids should already know if they have played with magnets at any time in their lives. The experiment is unnecessary, and we had little success with it when we did it. Instead watch this corny video. It is likely that you won’t even need to explain this topic any further.
  • Mass number. Now, if you are like me, you have already discussed this in-depth with the kids. They should know what the mass number tells and be able to tell how many protons, electrons, and neutrons any atom has.
  • Isotopes. It is important to understand that isotopes are atoms that have the same number of protons, but different numbers of neutrons. Carbon-12 and Carbon-13 are still Carbon atoms. Carbon-13 just has one more neutron than Carbon-12. I don’t think he does a very good job of explaining the isotopes. Basically teach the kids how to write the isotopes and determine how many protons and neutrons an element has based on its symbol.
  • Atomic Structure. He spent a lot of time on this and made it much more wordy than it needed to be, in my opinion. It is important to know that J.J. Thompson discovered electrons using the Cathode Ray Tube. He believed the electrons were suspended in the atom like plums in plum pudding. This was later disproved by Ernest Rutherford. His experiment led to the planetary model of the atom which later led to Bohr’s model of the atom.
  • Light. Dr. Wile includes light in this module so that the student will understand Rutherford’s experiment and how it let to the Bohr model. The math isn’t difficult and shouldn’t be too difficult to teach. WARNING: In this module, he tells the kids that the primary colors are red, blue, and green. My daughter was up in arms. This is not wrong. I did a bit of googling and the primary colors are different depending on which method of combining colors you use. With the additive method, the primary colors are red, blue, and green. When we combined colors in Kindergarten we used the subtractive method. Red and blue make green. Right? This was a bit confusing. Physics classroom has a good explanation. Here is another very in-depth discussion on color. So what the kids learned on Sesame Street is not wrong, but when we speak of light and not pigment the primary colors are red, blue, and green.

Electron Configuration

It is important to remember that all forms of matter want to stay in their ground state. This is the lowest possible energy state. This means that electron want to be in the lowest orbital possible as close to the nucleus as they can. Orbitals are the paths of the electrons around the nucleus. There are s, p, d, and f orbitals. I was going to explain it, but Chemistry for Competitions does a nice job of explaining the orbitals. A MUCH better job than I could do. Honestly, it is more than you will need for this course, but so what. Let’s aim high, shall we?

Before you start, print out this chart of electron configurations. It is much better than the one in the book. If you use that chart, you shouldn’t have any trouble writing the electron configurations. Don’t use the chart forever and don’t give it to them for the test. It is a good tool to use while they are learning about the orbitals, but writing electron configuration isn’t difficult. I do let my kids use a regular periodic table. I was going to explain how to write the configurations, but he does a fine job doing it in the book.

I want to mention the book, “Atoms, Molecules, and Compounds” by Phillip Manning. I notice on Amazon that it is only available as a Kindle download, but maybe your library will have it. It has a very good explanation about orbitals and writing electron configurations. It was helpful for me to see another presentation to refresh my memory. I found it at my library.

Beware rant ahead…

I am looking ahead to Module 8. So here it is. How to write chemical formulas properly. Do you see my frustration? Module 8. 16 weeks into the course and now he is talking about valence electrons and nomenclature. I am banging my head against the wall here. I know that you can’t see it, but I am. He is giving baby bits of information in a module. Molecular structure and atomic structure could have easily been squished into one module. These are sophomores in high school for crying out loud. Ok. I said my piece. One more thing while I am ranting. He says that electron configurations are not a worthless exercise. “They have a very, very deep meaning to a chemist.” Really? Very, very deep? Not just a little deep? That kind of writing is fine for me, but I am not writing a high school textbook. Ok, I am done.

I think that covers the module. It isn’t a very difficult module, and the math isn’t too tough. Remind your student to watch the units. Make sure they write their answer with a unit attached. Also watch significant figures. Good luck!

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