Atomsmith Online | Video Tutorials


Using Atomsmith Classroom

Getting Started with Atomsmith Classroom Online

This screencast introduces you to how to use Atomsmith Online, from inquiry activities that use its 3D interactive models and tools, to features that help teachers manage its use in the classroom.


Using the Molecule Library to teach NGSS

Take a tour through Atomsmith's Molecule Libary and see a few examples of how to use its interactive 3D molecular models to teach some of the NGSS Physical Science standards:  from middle-school-level examinations of simple molecules and extended structures (crystals), to high-school-level investigations of the relationships between long-chain molecules and their material properties, and of the interactions between pharmaceutical molecules and receptor sites in large biological molecules.

NGSS: MS-PS1-1 Matter and its Interactions

NGSS: HS-PS2-6 Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions


Atomsmith Orbital Models Tell the Story of the Covalent Bond

Upending Bohr’s electron-orbit atom and Lewis’s cubical atom bonding model, the application of quantum mechanics to chemical bonding radically changed our view of atoms and molecules. Atomsmith’s visual orbital models help you to tell the story of what covalent bonding really means — without mastering the nitty-gritty of quantum mechanics.


Atomsmith Classroom Experiments


Unit: Introducing Atomsmith

The Scientific Method: Up Close with Atomsmith
(Facts, Hypotheses and Theories)

NGSS: HS-PS2-6 Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions

Common Core: Grades 6-12 Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, & Technical Subjects

Use Atomsmith to dissect and better understand the scientific method and scientific-method terms. Then take this understanding to the next step – scrutinizing scientific results based upon explanations in the text of news articles and other publications.

Educating students to understand the scientific method and to distinguish tested theories, from untested conjecture, or worse, from fabricated opinion, is a life skill. And this life skill has never been more important than in today’s world of free-flowing false and/or biased information.

In applying the scientific method, students are challenged to to be thoughtful and to scrutinize information, distinguishing between the subtleties of facts, laws and conjectures, and the rigorous testing process for hypotheses and theories.


Unit: Atomic Theory and Structure

Using the Electron Configuration Lab

NGSS: HS-PS1-1 Matter and its Interactions, HS-PS4-3 Waves and their Applications

Through use of the Electron Configuration Lab, students gain a basic understanding of the symbolic representations (notation) of elements’ electron configurations and how the symbolic representations relate to atomic structure/electron orbitals (their shapes and energy levels). Students should understand that an element's/atom's electron configuration (usually) represents the lowest energy arrangement of electrons. Students also learn about the three rules used to build correct electron configurations (for elements in the first four rows of the Periodic Table) -- 1) The Aufbau Principle, 2) Hund's Rule, and 3) The Pauli Exclusion Principle. The Electron Configuration Lab has a self-check mechanism that helps to ensure that students learn to properly apply the three rules when building electron configurations.


Unit: Periodic Table


Unit: Chemical Bonding


Unit: Chemical Reactions

Chemical Equations + Nanoscale Models

NGSS: HS-PS1-7 Matter and its Interactions, MS-PS1-5 Matter and its Interactions

In this Experiment, students learn about the structure (or anatomy) of a chemical equation. They also use Atomsmith’s Reaction Lab to make connections between the symbols in a chemical equation and the particles that those symbols represent.


Redox: Ionization

NGSS: HS-PS1-2 Matter and its Interactions

This experiment explores the characteristics of a redox reaction in its simplest form, the ionization of Fe + S to form FeS. Using Atomsmith’s Lewis Structure - Dashes model type, students can see the atoms giving up their electrons (oxidized) and the atoms gaining electrons (reduction).


Remote Teaching with Atomsmith
Titration: Weak Acid Titrated with Strong Base

NGSS: HS-PS1-1 Matter and its Interactions, PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter

Here we use Atomsmith’s Titration models to highlight two points.

First: These models represent the best of our attempts to make connections between the three levels of Johnstone’s triangle: the particle, symbolic, and macroscopic levels. In fact, we believe that, were you forced to choose only one of these levels to teach titration, we’d make the case that the particle level yields the most understanding.

This makes Atomsmith’s Titration Experiments perfect for Remote Learning, which is the second point. Students can use a PDF annotation tool called Kami to fill out Experiment worksheets remotely and send them to you.

In this activity, at the molecular level, students explore the titration of a weak acid (CH3CO2H) with a strong base (NaOH). Students will see that the equivalence point is reached when each of the acetic acid molecules has lost a proton. The titration curve is plotted as NaOH is added. Students will also see that the pH is not neutral (pH = 7) at the equivalence point and will be asked to use the model to explain why.


Unit: Chemical Equilibrium

Disturbing a Reaction at Equilibrium

NGSS: HS-PS1-6 Matter and its Interactions

When a reaction reaches equilibrium under a given set of conditions (concentration, temperature and pressure), if the conditions are not changed, the reaction will remain at equilibrium forever = forward and reverse reactions continue at the same equal and opposite rates and the value of the reaction quotient, ​Q​, remains (nearly) equal to the equilibrium constant, ​K​c.​

It is possible, however, to disturb the equilibrium by changing conditions. One way to change the conditions is to increase the concentration of reactants or products. In this Experiment, you will bring a reaction to equilibrium, increase the reactant concentration, and then observe how the reaction responds to the disturbance to equilibrium.


Unit: Climate Science


Molecular Spectroscopy Lab

This screencast introduces you to how to use Atomsmith's Molecular Spectroscopy Lab, which is used in the Climate Science Experiments and Activities. The Atmospheric Gases and Infrared Light model allows you to investigate how infrared (IR) light is absorbed by molecules called "greenhouse gases" and how this process warms the atmosphere.

NGSS: HS-ESS3-5 Earth and Human Activity,  HS-ESS3-6 Earth and Human Activity


Unit: Gases

Kinetic Molecular Theory of Gases

NGSS: HS-PS3-1 Energy

Students use the Live Lab, and an original scientific paper by James Clerk Maxwell, to investigate the assumptions of the Kinetic Molecular Theory, how those assumptions apply to ideal gases and where the assumptions break down with real gases.


Unit: Electronegativity and Polarity

Bond Polarity in Diatomic Molecules

NGSS: HS-PS3-5 Energy

Using the Molecule Library and several electronegativity and polarity tools, students interact with models of fluorine, hydrogen fluoride and lithium fluoride to learn how differences in electronegativity between atoms can be used to predict how electrons are shared in chemical bonds, and how the extent of electron sharing (percent ionic character) determines types of bonds (nonpolar covalent, polar covalent, ionic) in each of the three diatomic molecules. Note: This is a longer activity that may be good to walk through as a class or to assign as homework.


Unit: Intermolecular Forces & States of Matter

Strengths of Intermolecular Forces

NGSS: HS-PS1-3 Matter and its Interactions

In this experiment, students explore the strength of IMFs by gathering data from three optimized models of chloromethane, methane and methanol. Atomsmith’s Energy Chart plots the intermolecular potential energies between the molecules, demonstrating the impact of molecular polarity on IMF strength. Using the data that they gather, students are then asked to explain the relationship between IMFs and boiling points.


Unit: Solutions

Solvation of Sodium Chloride

NGSS: HS-PS1-3 Matter and its Interactions

Using the Live Lab, students melt a crystal of sodium chloride, observing the strong ionic forces that hold the crystal together. They then surround the crystal with a layer of water molecules and observe as the crystal dissolves due to water’s polarity and the strength of ion-dipole forces.


Unit: VSEPR

Understanding AXE Patterns and Molecular Geometry

NGSS: Three Dimensional Learning: Crosscutting Concepts : Patterns

Students learn how to decompose electron geometries into bonding and nonbonding electron domains to construct "AXE" patterns that can then be used to assign molecular geometries.

Students examine models of methane, ammonia, and water to identify differences in molecular geometries of these three molecules that all have the same tetrahedral electron geometry.


Atomsmith Special Topics


Coronavirus: How Soap Degrades a Virus

The story of how simple soaps can destroy the outer shell of a virus involves important topics that we teach in chemistry including: polarity, intermolecular forces, and acid-base neutralization. For this Atomsmith Special Topic, we use a series of models that tell that story. These include simple fatty acids and their salts, micelles, and lipid bilayers.

Using these models, students follow the story of how fatty acid salts (soaps) in water degrade the lipid bilayers in the the viral envelope – causing the destruction of the virus.

Use this activity to have students apply and extend introductory chemistry concepts to a current problem of significant societal importance, including why do alcohol-based hand sanitizers not work as well as soap in killing viruses?

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