Unit Overview

Learners will begin by solving the mystery of the non-browning ‘sugar’. In the video mystery as well as a hands-on modeling activity, learners will discover that everything in our world is composed of small atoms, which, when bonded together, create unique structures with unique properties. Learners then select their own element, explore its properties, and design a prototype to be made from this material.

Lesson Overview

Medium 1s 640Solve: Atomic Mystery + Vocabulary Mind Map

Chef Crystal’s is feeling the heat! Learners help Mosa solve the mystery of why award-winning Chef Crystal’s cooking has suddenly gone sour. Utilizing new vocabulary and guided video questions, learners discover that substances that may look the same to the human eye can have very significant chemical and physical differences (80 minutes).

Medium atoms 2mMake: Atomic Modeling

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

Medium 3e 640Engineer: Engineer a new Material

Building off the “Make,” learners pick an element or compound, explore its chemical and physical properties, and design a prototype for a product to be made from this material (150 minutes).

Next Generations Science Standards

Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.

Science & Engineering Practices

  • Developing and Using Models

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • Structure and Properties of Matter

Cross Cutting Concepts

  • Scale, Proportion and Quantity

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” interchangeable, so emphasize the difference both in the video and the vocabulary map before proceeding to “The Make”.


    • Proton
    • Neutron
    • Electron
    • Atom
    • Molecule
    • Bond
    • Sucrose

Content Expert

  • Hans C. von Baeyer
    Chancellor Professor of Physics, Emeritus College of William and Mary


  • Powerpoints for Make and Design
  • Vocabulary Cards
  • Vocabulary Mind Map
  • Solve Student Handout
  • Make Student Handout
  • Design Student Handout

New: RocketLit 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 Based Life

    Medium 221 829
    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.

  • Opposites Attract

    Medium 226 855
    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.

  • Atom + Atom = ?

    Medium 172 612
    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.

  • Drawing an Atom

    Medium 168 608
    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.

  • If You Were Made of LEGOs

    Medium 167 607
    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.

  • Carbon Atoms are Great Dance Partners

    Medium 224 850
    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.