By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator
Watch our club highlight video to get the best visual overview of this month’s challenges.
This March our young STEMist broke down the parts of an atom, learned about chemical elements and compounds, and how we organize elements on the period table. They also built and took home a homemade battery powered by electrolytes (lemon juice) that carried an electric charge to turn on an LED light. This expanded on what the students learned in the previous club during their hands-on chemical changes lab. During that lab, students experimented with chemical changes and molecular compounds and turned a liquid from an acid to a base and vice versa. Electrolytes are compounds that the students used to conduct electricity and power up their photon flower and turned on a LED light.
Our club focused on the basic building block of matter, an atom. Atoms combine to form pure elements, compounds, and complex forms like computers and phones. Atoms are the smallest particle of matter that cannot be further subdivided using chemical means. In order to understand how atoms interact with each other, the students put together the parts of a carbon atom.
Atoms consist of three basic particles: protons, electrons, and neutrons. The nucleus (center) of the atom contains the protons (positively charged) and the neutrons (no charge). The outermost regions of the atom are called electron shells and contain electrons (negatively charged).
We introduced different elements to the students, who discovered them, and what the element is used in. In order for students to claim their prize they had to read back the full element name and confirm how many protons each element had.