Atoms in solids
The first lesson introduces the topic of atoms by taking you inside a diamond and a piece of graphite. You will see that both materials consist of the same carbon atoms, but have very different properties because their structures differ at the atomic level. You will also learn that atoms in solids do not stay still – they vibrate.
This lesson is a part of MEL Chemistry VR. Learn more →
atoms, matter, state of matter, solids, matter properties
- Atoms in solids don't move.
- Learn that matter consists of atoms
- Learn that atoms in solids are packed close to each other and remain in place
- Find out that atoms in solids do not stay still
- See that the same type of atoms being arranged differently provide different properties of solids
- Be able to compare the size of atoms to other objects
The aim is to show the students that the structure of graphite that was seen in VR allows them to draw with a pencil. During drawing, layers of graphite are mechanically peeled off the surface of the pencil core. As graphite is a conductor we can see that pencil line can connect an electrical circuit.
Ask students to connect an electrical circuit with a pencil line. The diode will light up. Let students try to explain why it happens.
History and sources of knowledge
- From ancient Greeks to Dalton's theory and modern days.
- Modern techniques to see atoms: scanning tunnelling microscope. For example: image of a single wall carbon nano-tube.
Topics to discuss
- Discuss how we can trust theories about things we can't see.
- The best scientific explanation is based on evidence (observations) and scientific knowledge.
Fun facts and quotes
How small atoms are: If atoms were the size of an apple, the apple itself would be bigger than the Earth. A copper penny coin contains a trillion times (1,000,000,000,000) more atoms than there are people on the Earth (which is greater than 7 billion).
From the lectures of Richard Feynman, the Nobel Prize winner:
“If, in some cataclysm, all of the scientific knowledge were to be destroyed and only one sentence passed on to the next generations of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic hypothesis (or the atomic fact, or whatever you wish to call it) that all things are made of atoms—little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another.”
- Name something around you that consists of atoms.
- Name something that doesn't.
Count the length of a line of 1,000,000 Sulphur atoms arranged side by side if the size of a Sulphur atom is 200pm (0.000 000 000 2m).