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published by the Concord Consortium
supported by the National Science Foundation
This concept-building activity contains a set of sequenced simulations for investigating how atoms can be excited to give off radiation (photons). Students explore 3-dimensional models to learn about the nature of photons as "wave packets" of light, how photons are emitted, and the connection between an atom's electron configuration and how it absorbs light.

Registered users are able to use free data capture tools to take snapshots, drag thumbnails, and submit responses.

This item is part of the Concord Consortium, a nonprofit research and development organization dedicated to transforming education through technology.

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1 supplemental document is available
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Work and Energy
= Conservation of Energy
Education Practices
- Technology
= Multimedia
Modern Physics
- Atomic Physics
= Absorption
= Atomic Models
= Electron Properties
Quantum Physics
- Bound State Systems
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
= Model
= Problem/Problem Set
= Tutorial
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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Intended Users:
Access Rights:
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.
© 2010 The Concord Consortium
atomic structure, atomic/molecular, energy levels, light, orbital model, photon, photon emission, standard model
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created August 21, 2012 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 10, 2020 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
July 31, 2011

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4E. Energy Transformations
  • 9-12: 4E/H5. When energy of an isolated atom or molecule changes, it does so in a definite jump from one value to another, with no possible values in between. The change in energy occurs when light is absorbed or emitted, so the light also has distinct energy values. The light emitted or absorbed by separate atoms or molecules (as in a gas) can be used to identify what the substance is.
  • 9-12: 4E/H7. Thermal energy in a system is associated with the disordered motions of its atoms or molecules. Gravitational energy is associated with the separation of mutually attracting masses. Electrical potential energy is associated with the separation of mutually attracting or repelling charges.
  • 9-12: 4E/H9. Many forms of energy can be considered to be either kinetic energy, which is the energy of motion, or potential energy, which depends on the separation between mutually attracting or repelling objects.
4F. Motion
  • 6-8: 4F/M6. Light acts like a wave in many ways. And waves can explain how light behaves.
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.
  • 9-12: 4G/H8. The motion of electrons is far more affected by electrical forces than protons are because electrons are much less massive and are outside of the nucleus.

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.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

High School — Functions (9-12)

Interpreting Functions (9-12)
  • F-IF.6 Calculate and interpret the average rate of change of a function (presented symbolically or as a table) over a specified interval. Estimate the rate of change from a graph.

Common Core State Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6—12

Key Ideas and Details (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account.
  • RST.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.
Craft and Structure (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11—12 texts and topics.
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.10 By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 11—CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.

Common Core State Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6—12

Text Types and Purposes (6-12)
  • 1. Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content. (WHST.11-12.1)

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

Topic: Conservation of Energy
Unit Title: Renewable Energy Sources

Help your students visualize what's going on when atoms undergo "excitation" and emit wave packets of light called photons. This set of classroom-tested computer simulations is highly recommended for promoting understanding of atomic processes in photon emission. Teachers: free registration allows your students to capture data, take snapshots, and submit work.

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
(The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2010), WWW Document, (https://learn.concord.org/resources/125/excited-states-and-photons).
Concord Consortium: Excited States and Photons (The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2010), <https://learn.concord.org/resources/125/excited-states-and-photons>.
APA Format
Concord Consortium: Excited States and Photons. (2011, July 31). Retrieved April 18, 2024, from The Concord Consortium: https://learn.concord.org/resources/125/excited-states-and-photons
Chicago Format
National Science Foundation. Concord Consortium: Excited States and Photons. Concord: The Concord Consortium, July 31, 2011. https://learn.concord.org/resources/125/excited-states-and-photons (accessed 18 April 2024).
MLA Format
Concord Consortium: Excited States and Photons. Concord: The Concord Consortium, 2010. 31 July 2011. National Science Foundation. 18 Apr. 2024 <https://learn.concord.org/resources/125/excited-states-and-photons>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {Concord Consortium: Excited States and Photons}, Publisher = {The Concord Consortium}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {18 April 2024}, Month = {July 31, 2011}, Year = {2010} }
Refer Export Format

%T Concord Consortium: Excited States and Photons %D July 31, 2011 %I The Concord Consortium %C Concord %U https://learn.concord.org/resources/125/excited-states-and-photons %O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %D July 31, 2011 %T Concord Consortium: Excited States and Photons %I The Concord Consortium %V 2024 %N 18 April 2024 %8 July 31, 2011 %9 application/java %U https://learn.concord.org/resources/125/excited-states-and-photons

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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.

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High school lab: student teams disassemble solar calculators to explore how energy is collected and transferred from the solar panel to the circuit board.

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