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published by the WGBH Educational Foundation
supported by the National Science Foundation
This Flash interactive activity explores atomic structure at a pace that middle school students can easily understand. It contains 26 animated pages that depict the atomic nucleus and the three primary subatomic particles: electrons, protons, and neutrons. It was designed to give learners a taste of the particles' properties, such as charge and mass, without introducing advanced terminology.

Please note that this resource requires Flash.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Modern Physics
- Atomic Physics
= Atomic Models
- Nuclear Physics
= Models of the Nucleus
Other Sciences
- Chemistry
- Middle School
- Elementary School
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
= Problem/Problem Set
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Activity
- New teachers
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Free access
© 2009 WGBH
atom animation, atomic mass, atomic structure animation, charged particles, electron, neutron, nucleus, proton, subatomic particle
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created July 23, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 19, 2020 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
December 30, 2009

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/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.

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.
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Record Link
AIP Format
(WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, 2009), WWW Document, (https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/lsps07.sci.phys.matter.theatom/the-atom/).
PBS LearningMedia: The Atom, (WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, 2009), <https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/lsps07.sci.phys.matter.theatom/the-atom/>.
APA Format
PBS LearningMedia: The Atom. (2009, December 30). Retrieved October 29, 2020, from WGBH Educational Foundation: https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/lsps07.sci.phys.matter.theatom/the-atom/
Chicago Format
National Science Foundation. PBS LearningMedia: The Atom. Boston: WGBH Educational Foundation, December 30, 2009. https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/lsps07.sci.phys.matter.theatom/the-atom/ (accessed 29 October 2020).
MLA Format
PBS LearningMedia: The Atom. Boston: WGBH Educational Foundation, 2009. 30 Dec. 2009. National Science Foundation. 29 Oct. 2020 <https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/lsps07.sci.phys.matter.theatom/the-atom/>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PBS LearningMedia: The Atom}, Publisher = {WGBH Educational Foundation}, Volume = {2020}, Number = {29 October 2020}, Month = {December 30, 2009}, Year = {2009} }
Refer Export Format

%T PBS LearningMedia: The Atom
%D December 30, 2009
%I WGBH Educational Foundation
%C Boston
%U https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/lsps07.sci.phys.matter.theatom/the-atom/
%O application/flash

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D December 30, 2009
%T PBS LearningMedia: The Atom
%I WGBH Educational Foundation
%V 2020
%N 29 October 2020
%8 December 30, 2009
%9 application/flash
%U https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/lsps07.sci.phys.matter.theatom/the-atom/

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Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

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