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History of the Atom Project

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The atomic theory of matter is an excellent illustration of the process of science. Our understanding of the world around us is reshaped and refined with each scientific experiment.  The first recorded idea of the atom comes from the ancient Greeks in the 400’s B.C. Over the millennia, scientific experimentation has added to our knowledge of the atom, redefining what it is and what its structure is like. In this project, your goal will be to learn about some of the highlights in the history of atomic theory to gain an appreciation of how we know what we know about atoms.


Questions to answer in your research:

1) When did they live? Where did they live?
2) What new information did they contribute to the understanding of the atom?
3) How did they find this new information? (What experiments did they do?)
4) Interesting facts – other accomplishments, personal information, famous historical events at
the time, etc.

Topic Links


Some of these scientists did experiments not related to atomic theory as well. If you search on the web for information, you might include searches about the history of atomic theory, or “Niels Bohr atomic theory” to help get more relevant results. You can, of course, get useful information by searching each name as well, but don’t forget to find out about contributions to atomic theory.  Your textbook also has valuable information about some of these scientists.  Here are a few helpful websites to get things going.


RAFT chart


Step 2 (Due 9/17) of this project is turning your research into an interesting and informative project. This is the part where you use the information, making sure to avoid plagiarism by putting things into your own words.  The type of project you will complete is called a RAFT (R = role, A = audience, F = Format, T = Topic).  You choose one horizontal row from the choices below to complete. If you do not see any options that appeal to you, talk to me about designing your own. (A self-designed option must be pre-approved.)







Science Writer at the New York Times

Reader of the New York Times Science Section

Newspaper Article of major scientific breakthrough – or retrospective report

The day’s headliner science discovery or The Ongoing discovery of the atom

Science Historian

Students studying atomic history

Detailed Timeline

Important Figures and

Events in the History of Atomic Structure


Students in your high school chemistry class

Graphic Novel

Adventures of a Scientist listed above that includes their contribution to atomic development

Actors putting on a performance for the scientists at Fermilab

Scientists in the research community who are currently doing research on subatomic particles


You will take on the persona of a scientist who contributed to the development of the atom

Scientists in GALE databases

Creating a Timeline

The Webb School Library and Archives Phone: 931-389-5758