Scientific Models
Inger Gistvik; Bromangymnasiet Hudiksvall
Target Group
Student 16 years
Brief Description
In order to improve the students scientific literacy we work with the atomic model. We build models and discuss in what way the model is useful, correct and incorrect.


Scientific models
A model is a constructed copy of an object that represents that object. When you talk about atoms you need to use a model as atoms are too small to be seen with the naked eye. Models are often used in scientific contexts as they are great for visualization and education. But - the model of an atom is indeed a simplification of the real atom. In order to help the students understand the common atom model used in science and the model’s advantages and disadvantages we use the following exercise.

This exercise aims at developing knowledge about concepts, theories and models used in science (chemistry).

The objective is that you should

  • Understand why models are used in science

  • Understand the pros and cons of different models

  • Learn the parts and structure of the atom

1. What is a model and why do we use them ?

Look at the picture . This is a model of SAAB Viggen J37.

Why do you think there is a model of the aircraft?

How do you think SAAB could take advantage of working with models of the aircraft when they constructed Viggen?

2.  Build a model of an atom

  • Work in groups of three.

  • Choose an element with an atomic number between 1 to 25.

  • Make the model using the material available in the classroom.

These are examples of the material we used.

3 Individual task

  • Take a picture of one of the models and write an explanation of the model’s parts.

  • Indicate any strengths/validities and weaknesses/limitations for the model.
    What is correct in the model. What is incorrect? Why do we often use an incorrect model?

  • Describe how the atomic model has evolved from Democritus and up til today.

           Names that could be useful are Democritus, Rutherford, Dalton, Bohr,
           Chadwick and Thomson

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