University of Virginia
Physics Department

Atomic Model Construction

A Physical Science Activity

Student Activity




  1. Select an atom above element number 11 (sodium) to model. (This assures the element will have at least three energy levels).
  2. Find the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons in the chosen atom.
  3. Construct a three dimensional model of the atom using the styrofoam ball as the nucleus with the appropriate number of small objects (pompoms, for example) attached to it to represent protons and neutrons. The electrons are attached to the rings in the configuration matching the electron arrangement of the atom as calculated by the student.
  4. Display the models within the classroom and they will serve as reminders of the atomic structure.