The Story of The Periodic Table: Unit 4 - The Mass of an Atom

The Story of The Periodic Table: Unit 4 - The Mass of an Atom


Schedule: This is a Self-Paced Course
Grade Span: 6th, 7th and 8th grade

  • About This Course

    Atoms are pretty small, so small that the debate over their mere existence raged throughout the 19th century. It was not until the second decade of the 1900’s that the matter (pun intended) was settled. 


    And if they exist, they must have a mass. This is the defining mission of this Unit - finding the mass of atoms. As mentioned earlier, atoms are small and therefore we can’t just place them on a scale! Students are challenged to combine the results from several different experiments and discover a way to cleverly and circuitously deduce the mass of atoms. 

  • Prerequisites

    • Solving for one unknown in an algebraic equation. Ideally, students should have taken or be currently enrolled in pre-algebra or algebra. 

    • Proficiency with graphing. Students can determine a scale for coordinate axes and properly draw and label axes.

    • Familiarity with the scientific method and the ability to design simple experiments.

    • Ability to collect and record data.

    • Ability to maintain an orderly and safe space for small lab experiments. Small amounts of acids are used and small combustion reactions occur, which require careful and patient attention.

  • How a Self-Paced Course Works

    Students advance through a series of really interesting labs. Each lab goes like this:


    • Kid takes materials out of a box 

    • Kid watches a 3-minute video

    • Kid runs a 10-30-minute lab. (Kid is pumped up!)

    • Kid does a lab write-up and a little problem set for quick feedback 

    • Kid notches a win, has brand new knowledge, and moves to the next lab! 


    In addition, there are bonus videos and readings and even a problem set designed to deepen an intuitive understanding of the topics.