Misconceptions about Atomic Structure
Although students often think that atoms
are solid, they are mostly empty space.
For example, if the nucleus of a hydrogen atom were three miles
wide and located in Kansas, its electrons would orbit near the
East and West Coasts.
The use of models often leads to misconceptions. For example, some students think that atoms have
a physical bonding agent similar to the toothpicks and skewers
used in "Atomic Gumdrops". Be sure students understand
that models are simple representations of more complex objects.
One way to lead the students into a dialogue of models is by
holding up a small toy car. Why is it like a real car? Why is
it unlike a real car? Work with students to develop a definition
of a model.