Unit Overview

In Mosa Mack’s Atoms and Molecules unit, students solve two atomic mysteries through which they discover the components of molecules and atoms. They are then led through an activity in which they construct atomic and molecular models. The unit culminates in an element challenge in which students select an element and bring it to life by either creating a profile for it or designing a product based on it.

  • Lesson 1
    Lesson 1: The Solve: Exploding Substances + Atomic Mystery

    The Solve: Exploding Substances + Atomic Mystery

    Choose to solve either a live video mystery on why two mystery substances behave so differently or an animated mystery on what caused a cook's dessert to fail so badly. By the end of The Solve, students discover that substances that may look the same to the human eye can have very significant chemical and physical differences. (Live Solve: 70-90 minutes; Animated Solve: 80 minutes)

  • Lesson 2
    Lesson 2: The Lab: Atomic Modeling

    The Lab: Atomic Modeling

    Learners engage in the hands-on modeling activity of showing different atomic combinations, leading to different molecular properties (150 minutes)

  • Lesson 2
    Lesson 2: The Lab Extension:  Conservation of Matter

    The Lab Extension: Conservation of Matter

    Students will investigate a chemical reaction produced in a lava lamp experiment to determine if mass is conserved. They then will use Lego bricks to model the chemical reaction in order to further analyze if the number and types of atoms that make up the products are equal to the number and types of atoms that make up the reactants. (150 minutes)

  • Lesson 3
    Lesson 3: The Engineer:  Design an Element Character

    The Engineer: Design an Element Character

    Choose from two options! 1. Students select an element from the Periodic Table, research its chemical and physical properties, and design a character from their element research OR 2. Students select an element or compound, research its chemical and physical properties, and design a new product or futuristic material. (150 minutes)

  • Next Generation Science Standards
    Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on developing models of molecules that vary in complexity. Examples of simple molecules could include ammonia and methanol. Examples of extended structures could include sodium chloride or diamonds. Examples of molecular level models could include drawings, 3D ball and stick structures, or computer representations showing different molecules with different types of atoms.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include valence electrons and bonding energy, discussing the ionic nature of subunits of complex structures, or a complete description of all individual atoms in a complex molecule or extended structure is not required.]
    Develop and use a model to describe how the total number of atoms does not change in a chemical reaction and thus mass is conserved. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on law of conservation of matter and on physical models or drawings, including digital forms, that represent atoms.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the use of atomic masses, balancing symbolic equations, or intermolecular forces.]
  • Inquiry Scale
    • Each lesson in the unit has an Inquiry Scale that provides directions on how to implement the lesson at the level that works best for you and your students.
    • “Level 1” is the most teacher-driven, and recommended for students in 4th-5th grades. “Level 4” is the most student-driven, and recommended for students in 7th-8th grades.
    • For differentiation within the same grade or class, use different inquiry levels for different groups of students who may require additional support or an extra challenge.
  • Common Misconceptions
    • Learners will often use the terms “atom” and “molecule” interchangeably, so emphasize the difference both in the video and the vocabulary map before proceeding to The Make.
  • Vocabulary
      • Proton
      • Neutron
      • Electron
      • Atom
      • Molecule
      • Bond
      • Sucrose
  • Content Expert
    • Hans C. von Baeyer
      Chancellor Professor of Physics, Emeritus College of William and Mary
  • Leveled Reading

    * To give our users the most comprehensive science resource, Mosa Mack is piloting a partnership with RocketLit, a provider of leveled science articles.

    • Carbon Atoms are Great Dance Partners

      In this article, students learn about what makes carbon so special and why it easily bonds with all kind of different molecules. Through as analogy comparing them to dance partners, the basic ideas behind covalent bonds and electron sharing are explained.

    • If You Were Made of LEGOs

      Students should already know that we aren't all made up of LEGOs, but this article should help them understand that we're all made of matter, we all have mass and that mass is made up of tiny parts called atoms.

    • Drawing an Atom

      The concept of drawing things that are too small to see is tough! This article explains that protons and neutrons are located in the nucleus and electrons move around outside the center of the atom.

    • Atom + Atom = ?

      The tiny parts that make up the universe are constantly breaking and reconnecting. This article explains to students that atoms can combine into the compounds and molecules that make up everything in the universe.

    • Opposites Attract

      In this article, students read about the basics of what makes up an ionic bond. The article starts out with a simple description of electrons and follows by describing cations and anions before connecting the concepts as an ionic bond.

    • Carbon Based Life

      In this article, students read about why carbon-based life forms are all around us. They read about the strong bonds that carbon forms with other atoms and the backbone that carbon forms to create many thing that we depend on to live.