Atomic Activities for Kids

Fun atomic activities in our upcoming Time Travelers lab takes= a fun and artful way to looking at forces and particle physics.

Many people don’t quite know what particle physics is, so they scratch their heads when they hear paint covered marbles and particle physics in the same paragraph. How can they be related, and how does all of this relate to the atomic activities in the lab? However, the best scientists can break down their concepts into ideas the kids and parents alike can understand.

Particle physicists are looking for the tiniest building blocks of the universe they can find. Think of it as being given a Lego ship. You start breaking it down into peices and notice that so far, the smallest piece you have found is a 2×1 brick. Digging deeper you find a 1×1 brick, and even deeper still you find a single 1×1 brick that is actually 3 of the thin 1×1 bricks staced on top of each other. Particle physicists are trying to find and define that thin 1×1 brick.

They do this by smashing beams of protons together incredibly fast and then lookig at the massive mess the big collision left behind. These messes, over time, have shown us that protons and neutrons hand out in the middle of the atom, and that they are made up of even tinier pieces themselves. Over decades of experiments they have found¬†things like atoms, protons, neutrons, electrons, quarks and more (it’s a whole ZOO out there!!!). No seriously, there are so many different and surprising particles out there they have dubbed it the particle zoo!

One of our add on atomic activities delves into what molecules look like, with younger kids building their own atoms using pom poms and chenille sticks, and older kids putting them together with some tasty M&Ms. Older kids can even break their M&Ms down into up and down quarks (or up and down candy corn).