Time Required: Two 45-minute sessions
Skill Level: Intermediate
Recommended Grades: 9th to 12th

In this activity, students will work individually to create a Rutherford model of an atom. Students will also work with a partner who will be responsible for double-checking their work for accuracy as the project is worked on. Their work will be shared with the rest of the class and displayed for other classes to see.

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Lesson Plan



Students will select any atom and and draw a two-dimensional representation of it.

This will be good practice for the lesson ahead, which entails drawing a two-dimensional model of an atom, and then using the 3Doodler to create a three-dimensional model of the atom.

Step 2

Pair students together.

Ask the students to choose any element on the periodic table between the numbers 15 and 25. It can be the same atom as the one selected in the preparation activity, or a different atom.

Step 3

Ask students to draw their atom using the Rutherford model previously discussed in class on a single sheet of white paper.

Step 4

Have students check their partner's drawing to verify that their two-dimensional model is correct.

The teacher will then approve the two-dimensional drawing. Each drawing must be approved by the teacher before the student can Doodle it.

Step 5

Have each student choose a piece of construction paper to mount their atom on.

Let the students know they will not attach the model to the construction paper until the end of the lesson. However, they will be writing on the construction paper throughout the lesson.

Step 6

On one side of the paper, have students research and list the chemical and physical properties of their atom. Have them name at least one common compound their atom is used in.

Once their list is created, have each student check their partner's work for accuracy before the next phase of the lesson.

Step 7

Have students choose a specific color for each of the following parts of their atom:

A) Proton
B) Neutron
C) Electron
D) Orbital

Step 8

On the top left corner of the construction paper (on the opposite side that the atom properties are listed on), have students create a key that states which filament colors represent each part of the atom. This can be done as the students Doodle their atom constituents.

Step 9

Have students begin Doodling their atoms by creating the protons. This should be done by making small beads of filament and attaching them together.

Let students know that they can create a ball of filament to "weld" their protons to if that is easier for them.

Step 10

Using a different color, have students create their neutrons in the same way, and connect them to the protons. This can be done by using filament as "glue" as it is extruded from the 3Doodler nozzle.

Step 11

Using a third color, have students create the appropriate number of electrons and set them aside.

Step 12

With the fourth color, have students create their ellipses-shaped orbitals. Have them create the appropriate number of orbitals for their atom, and set each one aside as it is created.


Students can create stencils for each ellipses by drawing the shape on a scrap piece of paper, and Doodling over the stencil with the 3Doodler. Once the filament hardens, students can peel it off of the paper so they can have ellipses of the same size for their model.

Step 13

Using the 3Doodler filament, have students attach the orbitals to each other based on what a Rutherford model would show.

Step 14

Once the orbitals are in place and sturdy, have students attach the electrons to the appropriate orbitals.

Step 15

Using the 3Doodler filament as an anchor, have students attach the nucleus made of protons and neutrons. They will have to "hang" the nucleus in the center of the orbitals by attaching it with the 3Doodler filament. It may take "welding" it to more than one side in order to make it sturdy.

Step 16

Have students attach their model to the construction paper with the 3Doodler filament.

Wrap Up

Students will share their creations with the class.
Students will discuss the physical and chemical properties of their chosen atom.
Students will share their 3Doodler creations on Twitter. @3Doodler #3DoodlerEDU


The teacher will assess the students’ models for accuracy. The teacher will assess the students’ understanding of the parts of an atom and its orbitals.

Possible Extensions

Have students find another classmate with which they can make a chemical bond. Have bonded students research the type of bond and explain the new compound formed. For students who cannot make a bond with another classmate, for this activity, have them explain why they are not bonded with another element. Have them find and describe an element their atom CAN bond with.



  • atom - the basic unit of a chemical element.

  • electron - a stable subatomic particle with a charge of negative electricity, found in all atoms and acting as the primary carrier of electricity in solids.

  • neutron - a subatomic particle of about the same mass as a proton but without an electric charge, present in all atomic nuclei except those of ordinary hydrogen.

  • nucleus - the positively charged central core of an atom, consisting of protons and neutrons and containing nearly all its mass.

  • orbital - each of the actual or potential patterns of electron density that may be formed in an atom or molecule by one or more electrons, and that can be represented as a wave function.

  • proton - a stable subatomic particle occurring in all atomic nuclei, with a positive electric charge equal in magnitude to that of an electron, but of opposite sign.

  • Rutherford model - Rutherford atomic model, also called nuclear atom or planetary model of the atom, description of the structure of atoms proposed (1911) by the New Zealand-born physicist Ernest Rutherford. The model described the atom as a tiny, dense, positively charged core called a nucleus, in which nearly all the mass is concentrated, around which the light, negative constituents, called electrons, circulate at some distance, much like planets revolving around the Sun.

Educational Standards

Next Gen Science

Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.

In This Lesson

This assignment correlates to this standard because students are using a manipulative in order to build a model, which displays what they are learning.

Next Gen Science

Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.

In This Lesson

Students use their model to show electrons in their various energy levels. The extension activity allows students to show energy levels and attractions.

Next Gen Science

Construct and revise an explanation for the outcome of a simple chemical reaction based on the outermost electron states of atoms, trends in the periodic table, and knowledge of the patterns of chemical properties

In This Lesson

In the extension of the lesson, students will explore the nature of chemical reactions by researching their atom and another students' atom.


Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.

In This Lesson

Students create an artifact following a design process, which allows them to visualize their learning.


Students develop, test and refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process.

In This Lesson

Students are testing and refining various methods of creating their models. Once they have each found the process that works for them as individuals, they can refine and build their models.


Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.

In This Lesson

Students are using a 3D model that they have created to communicate their learning. They will also be using a couple of different platforms and tools to reach a desired outcome.

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