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A MAKING A MODEL OF AN ELEMENT

Now you are going to construct a model of an element. What the heck is an "element?"

Have you ever heard Mom say something about the element on her kitchen stove? She was talking about a burner. Have you ever heard somebody say "He's really in his element?" That meant that the person was where he belonged--the proper element for a teacher is a classroom. I don't think scientists would talk much about these kinds of elements.

Mr. Webster says that an element can be a substance that cannot be split up into simpler substances. He tells us that there are 92 basic elements formed from the 92 different kinds of atoms found in nature.

Your teacher will burn a piece of paper in a dish and students can examine what is left. When the ashes have cooled, feel them with your fingers, and rub some on a piece of white paper.

Now your teacher will burn a wooden match in another dish, and we can examine those ashes in the same way (when they have cooled, of course).

Are the ashes from paper the same as the ashes from the wooden match? What is that yukky black stuff called? The black material left after the paper and the match have burned is an element called "carbon."

Wash your hands. Use soap. Otherwise, you'll get that yukky stuff all over everything you touch.

Your teacher might try burning other materials, such as cloth or bread, to see if they also contain carbon.

Does that mean that some kinds of ashes are carbon and some
are not?

Next, get four medium-sized styrofoam balls. Each ball represents a carbon atom. Join the balls together with 2- inch lengths of heavy wire.

The brilliant scientist tells us that when four carbon atoms join together in this way, they form one molecule of carbon. (It takes billions of these molecules to form a small piece of black carbon).

The Science Guy also tells us that when two or more atoms join together, they form a molecule. Does this mean that some molecules require two atoms and other molecules require four, or more?

The molecular structure of carbon is composed of only one kind of atom. Does this mean that the molecular structure of other elements can be composed of more than one kind of atom?

It seems like every time we learn something, we have more questions! That’s how we get to be brilliant!

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