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published by the Concord Consortium
supported by the National Science Foundation
In this interactive activity for grades 8-12, learners explore factors that cause atoms to form (or break) bonds with each other. The first simulation depicts a box containing 12 identical atoms. Using a slider to add heat, students can see the influence of temperature on formation of diatomic bonds. Simulations #2 and #3 introduce learners to reactions involving two types of atoms. Which atom forms a diatomic molecule more easily, and why? The activity concludes as students explore paired atoms (molecules). In this simulation they compare the amount of energy needed to break the molecular bonds to the energy needed to form the bonds. Registered users have access to an assortment of added features, including data saving, editing/customization, and supplemental materials.

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.
Editor's Note: This activity will help clarify why an increase in temperature makes it easier for certain molecules to break bonds. It will also get students involved in predicting the amount of energy needed to break bonds in paired atoms, a good foundation for understanding molecular dynamics. Recommended for high school chemistry or physics, but can be adapted for Honors 9th grade physical science.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Practices
- Technology
= Multimedia
Modern Physics
- Atomic Physics
= Atomic Models
Other Sciences
- Chemistry
- High School
- Middle School
- Instructional Material
= Interactive Simulation
= Model
= Problem/Problem Set
= Tutorial
- Audio/Visual
= Image/Image Set
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- Assessment
- New teachers
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© 2006 The Concord Consortium
association energy, atom simulations, atomic simulations, atomic structure, atomic/molecular, chemical energy graphs, dissociation energy, energy levels, intermolecular attractions, molecular simulations, molecular structure, molecule simulations
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created May 16, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 10, 2020 by Lyle Barbato

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.
  • 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.

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

Topic: Particles and Interactions and the Standard Model
Unit Title: Molecular Structures and Bonding

Designed for physical science courses, this interactive module explores factors that cause atoms to form or break bonds with each other. It's sequenced so that middle school students can tackle the concepts, but can also be adapted as a short exercise for high school.

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
(The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2006), WWW Document, (https://learn.concord.org/resources/652/making-and-breaking-bonds).
Concord Consortium: Making and Breaking Bonds (The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2006), <https://learn.concord.org/resources/652/making-and-breaking-bonds>.
APA Format
Concord Consortium: Making and Breaking Bonds. (2006). Retrieved May 29, 2024, from The Concord Consortium: https://learn.concord.org/resources/652/making-and-breaking-bonds
Chicago Format
National Science Foundation. Concord Consortium: Making and Breaking Bonds. Concord: The Concord Consortium, 2006. https://learn.concord.org/resources/652/making-and-breaking-bonds (accessed 29 May 2024).
MLA Format
Concord Consortium: Making and Breaking Bonds. Concord: The Concord Consortium, 2006. National Science Foundation. 29 May 2024 <https://learn.concord.org/resources/652/making-and-breaking-bonds>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {Concord Consortium: Making and Breaking Bonds}, Publisher = {The Concord Consortium}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {29 May 2024}, Year = {2006} }
Refer Export Format

%T Concord Consortium: Making and Breaking Bonds %D 2006 %I The Concord Consortium %C Concord %U https://learn.concord.org/resources/652/making-and-breaking-bonds %O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %D 2006 %T Concord Consortium: Making and Breaking Bonds %I The Concord Consortium %V 2024 %N 29 May 2024 %9 application/java %U https://learn.concord.org/resources/652/making-and-breaking-bonds

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