A Science Odyssey Atom Builder


screen grab of Atom Builder


Description of Activity

The goal of the activity is to build a carbon atom out of elementary particles (up quarks, down quarks, and electrons). On the left side of the activity's window sits the particle dispenser.

Dragging two up quarks and one down quark from the dispenser to the Nucleon Assembly area, which sits near the center of the window, forms a proton. Dragging one up quark and two down quarks to the Assembly area forms a neutron. From the Assembly area, a neutron or proton is dragged to the atom's nucleus at the center of the atom building area. Electrons are dragged from the dispenser directly to the building area, to one of two rings that surround the atom's nucleus.

As protons, neutrons, and electrons are added to the atom, the atom changes from one element to another. From hydrogen the atom changes into helium, then lithium, and on up through the Periodic table until it finally becomes carbon. If, while being built, the balance between protons, neutrons, and electrons is not sufficiently maintained, the atom will either become radioactive and decay, or become so ionized that it will attach itself to a molecule outside the building area. In either case, the user must start over. The activity is over when the atom changes into carbon.



Back to first page of Atom Builder




Home | You Try It Menu | People and Discoveries | Printable Version | Help

WGBH | PBS Online | Search | Feedback | Shop
© 1998 WGBH