Notes on the history of the atom
In 1897 the British physicist Joseph John (J. J.) Thomson (1856–1940) discovered the electron in a series of experiments designed to study the nature of electric discharge in a high-vacuum cathode-ray tube, an area being investigated by numerous scientists at the time. Thomson interpreted the deflection of the rays by electrically charged plates and magnets as evidence of "bodies much smaller than atoms" that he calculated as having a very large value for the charge-to-mass ratio. Later he estimated the value of the charge itself. In 1904 Thomson suggested a model of the atom as a sphere of positive matter in which electrons are positioned by electrostatic forces. His efforts to estimate the number of electrons in an atom from measurements of the scattering of light, X, beta, and gamma rays initiated the research trajectory along which his student Ernest Rutherford moved. Thomson's last important experimental program focused on determining the nature of positively charged particles. Here his techniques led to the development of the mass spectrograph. His assistant, Francis Aston, developed Thomson's instrument further and with the improved version was able to discover isotopes—atoms of the same element with different atomic weights—in a large number of nonradioactive elements. HYPERLINK "http://www.lz95.org/assets/1/17/History_of_the_Atom_Project.pdf" \l "page=1" \o "Page 1" HYPERLINK "http://www.lz95.org/assets/1/17/History_of_the_Atom_Project.pdf" \l "page=2" \o "Page 2" HYPERLINK "http://www.lz95.org/assets/1/17/History_of_the_Atom_Project.pdf" \l "page=3" \o "Page 3" HYPERLINK "http://www.lz95.org/assets/1/17/History_of_the_Atom_Project.pdf" \l "page=4" \o "Page 4"
DUE DATE: _____________ Name: _________________________
History of the Atom Project
The atomic theory of matter is an excellent illustration of the process of science. Our understanding of the world around us is reshaped and refined with each scientific experiment. The first recorded idea of the atom comes from the ancient Greeks in the 4
00’s B.C. Over the millennia, scientific experimentation has added to our knowledge of the atom, redefining what it is and what its structure is like. In this project, your goal will be to learn about some of the highlight s
in the history of atomic theory
to gain an appreciation of how we know what we know about atoms. Step one of this process involves research. Listed below are 14 scientists who all contributed to our current understanding of the atom. You need to find out who these people were and what they contributed to atomic theory.
J. J. Thomson
Louis De Broglie
HeisenbergQuestions to answer in your research
1) When did they live? Where did they live?
2) What new information did they contribute to the understanding of the atom? 3) How did they find this new information? (What experiments did they do?) 4) Interesting facts
other accomplishments, personal information, famous historical events at the time,etc. Cite Your Sources!
You must hand in a bibliography with your project. This must be in proper works cited/bibliography format. (See the
shown below.) There are lots of websites that can help you make a correctly formatted citation. One good one
Sample Citation (for an online source):
"A Science Odyssey: You Try It: Atom Builder."
. PBS, 1998. Web. 04 Nov. 2009
Some of these scientists did experiments not related to atomic theory as well. If you search on the web form information, you might include searches about history of atomic theory, or “Niels Bohr atomictheory” to help get less broad results. You can of course get good information by searching each name as well, but don’t forget to find out about contributions to atomic theory. Your textbook also has useful information about some of these scientist
Here are a few useful websites to get things going.
scroll down to the bottom for links to scientists
http://www.visionlearning.com/library/module_viewer.php?mid=50 DUE DATE: _____________
of this project is turning your research into an interesting an informative project. This is the part where you use the information, making sure to avoid plagiarism by putting things into your own words. The type of
project you will complete is called a RAFT (R = role, A = audience, F = Format, T = Topic). You choose one horizontal row from the choices below to complete. If you don’t see any options that appeal to you, talk to your teacher about designing your own. (A self-
designed option must be approved
by your teacher.)
Role Audience Format Topic
Science Writer at the New
Reader of the New York
Times Science Section
Series of Newpaper Articles
The Ongoing discovery of
Students studying atomic
Important Figures and
Events in the History of
Students in your high
school chemistry class
Adventures of 2 or more
Scientists listed above that
includes their contribution
to atomic development
Head Game Developers of
Nintendo or Sony
Illustrated proposal for a
new video game
(don’t forget to name
A video game that will
teach high school
students about atomic
theoryActors putting on a
performance for the
scientists at FermilabScientists in the research
community who are
currently doing research on
You will take on the
persona of at least two to
the scientists who
development of the atom
Read the rubric carefully
to understand what content needs to be included in your project and how your project will be graded.
You could write one article per scientist, but it might be better to write fewerarticles, each one
focusing on a different time period. Make sure your writing is interesting; your reader shouldn’t want to put the
newspaper down after the first few sentences. Make sure to use newspaper article format and be creative. (Read a
science article perhaps for a better understanding of this.) Timelines
Your timeline should be visually attractive and include pictures of each scientist as well as descriptions of
their contributions to atomic theory. Organization and attractive layout a re key.
You should write an illustrated story
. Don’t forget a cover with the title of
you need to make a
n interesting narrative that
studentswould like to read that still
includes all the required content.
research into a story!
Video Game Proposal
Imagine you have to pitch a new video game to Nintendo or Sony. This is the proposal you
would bring with you. It should outline the type of game, the objective of the game, and describe how the game is
played. It should include some illustrated frames of what the game will look like on screen. Be creative about how you
can incorporate learning atomic theory into a game! Remember, your proposal should make Nintendo or Sony want to
make and sell your game.
Take on the persona of the scientists
. You will give your performance to the scientists in our class. Be creative and fully take on the role of the scientists you have chosen. Limit the performance to 3 -
5 minutes and turn in a bibliography with the sources you used to research your scientist(s).