Atoms for Kids

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The atom, the basic building block of matter, consists of a core nucleus surrounded by negatively charged electrons. Inside the atom nucleus contains a mixture of positively charged protons, and electrically neutral neutrons. All atomic electrons bind to the nucleus through electromagnetic force. A ground of electrons bound together will form individual molecules. An atom with an equal number of protons and electrons will hold neutral. An ion has positive or negative charge, either through a lack of electrons or an electron excess. The number of protons determines the formation of chemical elements, while as the number of neutrons determines the element's isotope. Most of the atom's mass has a concentration compacted within its nucleus; however, protons and neutrons hold about the same mass. Electrons bound to atoms hold a percentage of stable energy levels, otherwise known as orbitals, which undergo transitory processes through absorbing or omitting photons with equal energy levels. Electrons determine an element's chemical properties, thus influencing an atom's magnetic properties.

Subatomic particles, a scientific term for electrons, protons, and neutrons, are the individual atomic components that determine classification of certain molecules. Electrons have a negative electrical charge too small for modern techniques to measure. Protons have positive charge with a mass far greater than the electron. Neutrons have no electrical charge. Both protons and neutrons have a composition of elementary particles called quarks, a member of the fermion particle group. Quarks come in six different types, and each have a fractional electric charge. Protons have two up-quarks and one down-quark, while neutrons have one up-quark and two do...

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...Matter (PDF): An extensive resource detailing the science behind the matter surrounding us, including the composition of atoms and functioning movement of all molecules.

Miami Science Museum: The Atoms Family: A science project idea illustrating the composition of atoms.

New York Hall of Science: All About Molecules: Molecules are small particles that make up all organic and non-organic matter.

SK Online: Atoms and Molecules: A science lesson explaining the basic building blocks of life and the composition of all molecules.

American Physical Society: From Atoms to Molecules (and back): Physics developments have led to laser technology that can combine and deconstruct atoms to molecules and molecules to atoms.

4-H Project: Fun with Atoms (PDF): A lesson plan and science project that will help illustrate the composition of atoms into molecules.
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