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published by the Concord Consortium
supported by the National Science Foundation
In this interactive activity for grades 8-12, learners build computer models of atoms by adding or removing electrons, protons, and neutrons. It presents the orbital model of an atom: a nucleus consisting of protons and neutrons with electrons surrounding it in regions of high probability called orbitals. Guided tasks are provided, such as constructing a lithium atom and a carbon-12 atom in the fewest possible steps. The activity concludes with a model for building a charged hydrogen atom (an ion). Within each task, students take snapshots of their work product and answer probative questions.  

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This item is part of the Concord Consortium, a nonprofit research and development organization dedicated to transforming education through technology. The Concord Consortium develops deeply digital learning innovations for science, mathematics, and engineering.

Please note that this resource requires Java.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Practices
- Technology
= Multimedia
Modern Physics
- Atomic Physics
= Atomic Models
= Electron Properties
Other Sciences
- Chemistry
- High School
- Middle School
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Interactive Simulation
= Model
= Problem/Problem Set
= Tutorial
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Learners
- Educators
- General Publics
- application/java
- text/html
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Limited free access
Access to web site is free. Users may register for additional free access to data capture and to store student work products.
© 2006 The Concord Consortium
Atom builder, Schroedinger, atom constructor, atom model, atom simulations, atomic simulations, atomic structure, atomic/molecular, electron, molecule simulations, neutron, orbitals, proton
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created May 17, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 10, 2020 by Lyle Barbato
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4D. The Structure of Matter
  • 6-8: 4D/M1a. All matter is made up of atoms, which are far too small to see directly through a microscope.
  • 6-8: 4D/M13. The idea of atoms explains chemical reactions: When substances interact to form new substances, the atoms that make up the molecules of the original substances combine in new ways.
  • 9-12: 4D/H1. Atoms are made of a positively charged nucleus surrounded by negatively charged electrons. The nucleus is a tiny fraction of the volume of an atom but makes up almost all of its mass. The nucleus is composed of protons and neutrons which have roughly the same mass but differ in that protons are positively charged while neutrons have no electric charge.
  • 9-12: 4D/H2. The number of protons in the nucleus determines what an atom's electron configuration can be and so defines the element. An atom's electron configuration, particularly the outermost electrons, determines how the atom can interact with other atoms. Atoms form bonds to other atoms by transferring or sharing electrons.
4E. Energy Transformations
  • 9-12: 4E/H4. Chemical energy is associated with the configuration of atoms in molecules that make up a substance. Some changes of configuration require a net input of energy whereas others cause a net release.
4G. Forces of Nature
  • 9-12: 4G/H2b. At the atomic level, electric forces between electrons and protons in atoms hold molecules together and thus are involved in all chemical reactions.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M1. Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.
  • 6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
  • 9-12: 11B/H5. The behavior of a physical model cannot ever be expected to represent the full-scale phenomenon with complete accuracy, not even in the limited set of characteristics being studied. The inappropriateness of a model may be related to differences between the model and what is being modeled.
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Record Link
AIP Format
(The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2006), WWW Document, (
Concord Consortium: Probability Clouds (The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2006), <>.
APA Format
Concord Consortium: Probability Clouds. (2006). Retrieved June 23, 2024, from The Concord Consortium:
Chicago Format
National Science Foundation. Concord Consortium: Probability Clouds. Concord: The Concord Consortium, 2006. (accessed 23 June 2024).
MLA Format
Concord Consortium: Probability Clouds. Concord: The Concord Consortium, 2006. National Science Foundation. 23 June 2024 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {Concord Consortium: Probability Clouds}, Publisher = {The Concord Consortium}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {23 June 2024}, Year = {2006} }
Refer Export Format

%T Concord Consortium: Probability Clouds %D 2006 %I The Concord Consortium %C Concord %U %O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %D 2006 %T Concord Consortium: Probability Clouds %I The Concord Consortium %V 2024 %N 23 June 2024 %9 application/java %U

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Concord Consortium: Probability Clouds:

Covers the Same Topic As Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project: Hydrogen Energy Levels Lab

This simulation-based activity was developed to help students understand the quantum nature of energy levels in an idealized hydrogen atom.

relation by Caroline Hall

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