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Mariner

My 5 year old loves atoms. What now?

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I dropped out of science and math in middle school but my son likes it. I once told him “all things, everything you see, are made of atoms” and he got excited by it. We spin around in circles as atoms and crash into each other to form compounds. I bought him a periodic table and every day he asks what this and that element are, what’s this column called etc.

Any info I give is from at chemistry textbooks and general science books from the library. We act things out wherever possible to make the knowledge fun and interactive. I can keep going this way, but maybe people have some suggestions on else we can do?

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31 minutes ago, Mariner said:

I dropped out of science and math in middle school but my son likes it. I once told him “all things, everything you see, are made of atoms” and he got excited by it. We spin around in circles as atoms and crash into each other to form compounds. I bought him a periodic table and every day he asks what this and that element are, what’s this column called etc.

Any info I give is from at chemistry textbooks and general science books from the library. We act things out wherever possible to make the knowledge fun and interactive. I can keep going this way, but maybe people have some suggestions on else we can do?

As an old bastard, and in my day I would have said, get him some appropriate books for his age, which generally tend to make it fun and interactive as you are doing. But in this day of the 21st century with the Internet and such, I'm sure there may be something more attuned to someone born in this age of the Internet. 

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59 minutes ago, Mariner said:

 I can keep going this way, but maybe people have some suggestions on else we can do? 

You can show him e.g. this video of how photons (i.e. light) interact with atoms:

Explain what is in the middle (nucleus), explain composition of nucleus (protons, neutrons, stability, radioactivity, decay energy, disintegration energy).

Explain what is around nucleus (electrons), explain shells and sub-shells, how electrons are ejected, and how they are reattached to atom.

 

 

38 minutes ago, beecee said:

But in this day of the 21st century with the Internet and such, I'm sure there may be something more attuned to someone born in this age of the Internet.  

Exactly. There are websites and desktop or mobile applications where you can enter chemical formula, get name of compound, and in 3D viewport observe and rotate 3D visualization of that molecule. See it from the all sides.

 

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3 hours ago, Sensei said:

Explain what is in the middle (nucleus), explain composition of nucleus (protons, neutrons, stability, radioactivity, decay energy, disintegration energy).

Explain what is around nucleus (electrons), explain shells and sub-shells, how electrons are ejected, and how they are reattached to atom.

Sounds great! I’ll try learn what all those are then i’ll explain it to him interactively.

I can’t afford enough internet to watch YouTube videos (too much data) but one day we’ll manage to get it.

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Just now, Mariner said:

I can’t afford enough internet to watch YouTube videos (too much data) but one day we’ll manage to get it.

This video is 42 seconds long at 360px resolution.. i.e. couple MB at most.

 

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1 hour ago, Mariner said:

I can’t afford enough internet to watch YouTube videos (too much data) but one day we’ll manage to get it.

For what its worth, I think youre the best Dad in the world. Keep up what youre doing, youre doing a great job with acting out those things to teach your son.

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5 hours ago, Mariner said:

I bought him a periodic table and every day he asks what this and that element are, what’s this column called etc.

Cool!

For atoms and particles (and science in general) I have used books with lots of pictures so that we can both read together and/or kids can explore the book and ask questions later. Here is an example, the author explains that there are two types of scientists within the physics, the physicists who calculate mathematically how things work and the physicists who break things down so that the counting physicists can figure out why. The book* is excellent but I've not been able to find a translated version. I post it as an example even if it is not in english. 

image.png.0bfc9ab59eeaa0b1e1b30f22676a2830.png

Introduction to standard model; how many types of Quarks are required?

image.png.6b8bcd2614a6d5389239c33116f15aee.png

 

Your kid is probably already past this stage already but others might find it useful. I've used Toca Lab which focuses on playing around with the elements and the periodic system.

pros: 
All 118 elements can be "discovered" in a periodic table focused layout.
Some basic behaviour included; gases "hover", solids drops down on the table. 
Opens for discussion based on periodic system and elements.
AFAIK no commercials

Cons:
Focus is on playing, not scientifically correct details. Example: new elements can be "created" from other elements.
Kids won't learn detailed scientific information without interaction with an adult or older kids.

Here is a review: https://www.commonsense.org/education/app/toca-lab-elements

Here is a PDF with all elements already "discovered": https://s6.pappasappar.se/wp-content/uploads/TocaLab_PeriodicTable.pdf. The app starts with an empty one. 

 

 

*) https://www.bonniercarlsen.se/bocker/163790/om-pyttesma-partiklar/

 

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8 hours ago, Sensei said:

ball-n-stick model

Good point! It was some decades ago but I still remember how cool it was to build stuff.  
I think the ball-n-stick model could be fun to combine with a (free) online tool such as Molview. I'll use Sensei's picture as an example.
If kid asks "what have I built? What does it do?". Personally I couldn't identify the compound in the picture but a few minutes in Moleview tells us that it (likely) is
"Proline, an alpha-amino acid" and "Amino acids help break down food, support growth, and repair body tissue."

image.png.335f5b9accce61ab9a75e1a6279f19e4.png

http://molview.org/?cid=614

There are of course other methods. Personally I don't know much chemistry so this is a quick method to be able to tell some basic facts.  

 

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@Ghideon

It is brilliant idea for a game for (and with) a child! +1. Let him or her build the molecule with balls-n-sticks, and search on-line what it is actually and read what it is doing. This is quite an interesting, innovative and not boring way to learn chemistry.

Edited by Sensei

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Get a poster of the Periodic Table (may be able to pick one up cheap on Ebay) so you can see the relationships between elements. For the moment, the reasons for the structure of the table doesn't matter but one day you can both lean about that. There is always more to learn from the table.

When you find out something about one element you can look up similar elements. For example, table salt is sodium chloride. From the Periodic Table we can see that there should be a similar compound, potassium chloride. There is, and it is used as a salt substitute but is toxic in large doses. Or when you find out that hydrogen sulphide smells of rotten eggs, you can find out that selenium sulphide smells unbearably worse. And tellurium sulphide even worse than that.

As kids (and adults) love extreme smells and explosions, here is a link to a series of blog posts by an industrial chemist on "things I won't work with": https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/category/things-i-wont-work-with

There are some great descriptions of just quite how appallingly smelly or dangerous some compounds are. 

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That is great that your son is interested in atoms and all and whatever you are doing is very good. If you want to make him understandd the things in a better way then you can use animated illustartion available on youtube.

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