Standard #: SC.8.P.8.7


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Explore the scientific theory of atoms (also known as atomic theory) by recognizing that atoms are the smallest unit of an element and are composed of sub-atomic particles (electrons surrounding a nucleus containing protons and neutrons).


General Information

Subject Area: Science
Grade: 8
Body of Knowledge: Physical Science
Idea: Level 1: Recall
Big Idea: Properties of Matter - A. All objects and substances in the world are made of matter. Matter has two fundamental properties: matter takes up space and matter has mass which gives it inertia.

B. Objects and substances can be classified by their physical and chemical properties. Mass is the amount of matter (or "stuff") in an object. Weight, on the other hand, is the measure of force of attraction (gravitational force) between an object and Earth.

The concepts of mass and weight are complicated and potentially confusing to elementary students. Hence, the more familiar term of "weight" is recommended for use to stand for both mass and weight in grades K-5. By grades 6-8, students are expected to understand the distinction between mass and weight, and use them appropriately.

Clarification for grades K-2: The use of the more familiar term ‘weight’ instead of the term “mass” is recommended for grades K-2.

Clarification for grades 3-5: In grade 3, introduce the term mass as compared to the term weight. In grade 4, investigate the concept of weight versus mass of objects. In grade 5, discuss why mass (not weight) is used to compare properties of solids, liquids and gases.

Date Adopted or Revised: 02/08
Content Complexity Rating: Level 1: Recall - More Information
Date of Last Rating: 05/08
Status: State Board Approved

Related Courses

Course Number1111 Course Title222
2002100: M/J Comprehensive Science 3 (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2002110: M/J Comprehensive Science 3, Advanced (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2003010: M/J Physical Science (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
2003020: M/J Physical Science, Advanced (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
7820017: Access M/J Comprehensive Science 3 (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2018, 2018 and beyond (current))
2002055: M/J Comprehensive Science 1 Accelerated Honors (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
7920030: Fundamental Integrated Science 1 (Specifically in versions: 2013 - 2015, 2015 - 2017 (course terminated))


Related Access Points

Access Point Number Access Point Title
SC.8.P.8.Su.5 Recognize that parts of matter can be separated in tiny particles.
SC.8.P.8.Pa.5 Separate a mixture into its parts.
SC.8.P.8.In.7 Identify that matter is made of small particles called atoms.


Related Resources

Educational Game

Name Description
The Element Game The computer will randomly pick an element and present the student with that element's data from the Periodic Table of Elements. They will use that information to answer the question that the computer asks about the number of protons, neutrons, electrons or nucleons (particles in the nucleus) that an atom of that element contains.

Lesson Plans

Name Description
Atomic Structure Unit: Lesson 3 - What's My Element?

This is the final lesson 3 in the Atom Structure Unit. This lesson allows students to program in Scratch and switch the costumes based on the operational conditions placed on the sprite. The final product in this lesson will showcase the students' conceptual understanding of the atomic structure in a computer science medium.

Atomic Structure Unit: Lesson 2 - Build Atom in Scratch

This is lesson 2 of 3 in the Atomic Structure unit. This lesson helps students sketch atoms by placing electrons, neutrons, and protons by referring to the periodic table. This lesson also helps students upload/draw costumes on Scratch to create animated objects.

Atomic Structure Unit: Lesson 1 - Science of an Atom

This is lesson 1 of 3 in the Atomic Structure unit. This lesson helps students determine charge, structure and location of different components of an atom. This lesson also allows students to sketch the first 18 elements from the periodic table.

Periodic Table - Atoms and Bonding

In this Model Eliciting Activity (MEA), students will use their knowledge of the organization of the periodic table and the basic properties of atoms to determine which elements should be used to develop compounds with two atoms of different elements. Students must determine the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons in a neutrally charged atom of an element using the periodic table. They must also determine which elements will likely bond together using their location on the periodic table. Students completing this MEA will develop two short essay responses to a client in the scientific industry.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Exploring the Atom!

Students will be able to explain what an atom is and what its subatomic particles are. Students will be able to read and locate the number of protons for each element on the periodic table. Knowing the location of the protons, they will gain knowledge about the electrons and the neutrons. They will also be able to model an atom and properly locate the protons, neutrons, and electrons.

Interactive classroom atom

Students learn the charge and location of subatomic particles by dressing as them and creating an atom model in the classroom.

Build An Atom

This lesson provides students with the basic foundations of atomic theory and a simple understanding of the periodic table. It provides an easy-to-understand Prezi presentation before leading students into an easy and fun atom building simulation. Assessments are scored by the progam. A vocabulary website is also provided. It can be used on iPads or in a computer lab.

Stable Atom, Ion, or Isotope?

This lesson will teach the concept of differences between stable atoms, ions, and isotopes. The students will take their knowledge of the atomic theory and will build models of varying atomic forms.

Mystery Isotopes

Through this engaging activity students work as a group to create models of isotopes with stickers and construction paper. Students also use models created by their peers to analyze the number of subatomic particles and determine isotopes' names. All worksheets and data collection sheets are included.

Atomic Theory Exhibit

Students take visitors on a trip through time to view the development of the atomic theory. During the presentation they list scientists who contributed to our understanding, give dates, and display diagrams that represent the atom in various stages of its development.

Original Student Tutorials

Name Description
The Atom Part 2: The History of the Atom

Follow the story of how the model of the atom has changed over time in this interactive tutorial.

The Atom Part 1: Big Things Come in Small Packages

Explore atoms--the smallest unit of matter--and how they are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons in this interactive tutorial.

Perspectives Video: Teaching Idea

Name Description
Modeling Atoms

Many students are initially daunted by the periodic table, but this science teacher has an idea to chip away at their intimidation by building atomic models.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Teaching Idea

Name Description
M&M® Model of the Atom In this activity, learners use colored candy to represent subatomic particles and make a model of an atom (Bohr model). This activity will help familiarize learners with subatomic components of an atom as well as nuclear notation of the periodic table.

Text Resources

Name Description
Atomic Theory

This article is intended to support reading in the content area. The article provides a chronological description of the development of the atomic theory. Beginning with debates by Greek philosophers in the sixth century B.C., the various beliefs about atoms are explained. For around 2000 years, the subject lay dormant, until John Dalton developed his atomic theory in the 1800s. Delving into tests of Dalton's theory, the author explains how scientists, over time, developed what we now know as the modern day atomic theory.

We Are Stardust

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. This text examines how humans and all things around us are made of elements created in stars. The article references fusion, the powerful collision of enormous stars, and the intense explosion of supernovas. All of this is tied to the creation of heavier elements that hurtle through space, to be reassembled as distant solar systems.

Video/Audio/Animations

Name Description
Element Math Game Students determine the number of protons, electrons, neutrons, and nucleons for different atoms
Science Crossword Puzzles A collection of crossword puzzles that test the knowledge of students about some of the terms, processes, and classifications covered in science topics

Virtual Manipulatives

Name Description
Build an Atom Build an atom out of protons, neutrons, and electrons, and see how the element, charge, and mass change. Then play a game to test your ideas!
Teachers' Domain: The Atom This Flash interactive activity explores atomic structure at a pace that middle school students can easily understand. It contains 26 animated pages that depict the atomic nucleus and the three primary subatomic particles: electrons, protons, and neutrons. It gives learners a taste of the particles' properties, such as charge and mass, without introducing advanced terminology.

Student Resources

Original Student Tutorials

Name Description
The Atom Part 2: The History of the Atom:

Follow the story of how the model of the atom has changed over time in this interactive tutorial.

The Atom Part 1: Big Things Come in Small Packages:

Explore atoms--the smallest unit of matter--and how they are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons in this interactive tutorial.

Video/Audio/Animations

Name Description
Element Math Game: Students determine the number of protons, electrons, neutrons, and nucleons for different atoms
Science Crossword Puzzles: A collection of crossword puzzles that test the knowledge of students about some of the terms, processes, and classifications covered in science topics

Virtual Manipulative

Name Description
Build an Atom: Build an atom out of protons, neutrons, and electrons, and see how the element, charge, and mass change. Then play a game to test your ideas!


Parent Resources

Perspectives Video: Teaching Idea

Name Description
Modeling Atoms:

Many students are initially daunted by the periodic table, but this science teacher has an idea to chip away at their intimidation by building atomic models.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.



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