Making a model of an atom is a very educational, but simple process. This is a common project for children in school who are learning about atomic structures. The make-up of the atom is fairly simple, but you will need to know how to make the atom of your specific element and how to arrange the parts to create your atom model.
Finding Element's Atomic Structure
To correctly build a model of an atom, you need to know which element the atom represents. This will help your to decide how many protons, neutrons and electrons to include, and also where to place them. Reference the periodic table of elements to find the number of protons, neutrons and electrons in your element's atom. To do this, look at the number in the upper left-hand corner of your element's square on the chart. This is the atomic number, which also represents the number of protons and electrons in your atom. The neutrons are a bit more difficult to figure. Take the atomic weight--number at the bottom of the element's square--rounded to the nearest whole number and subtract the atomic number from it. This is the number of neutrons that you will need.
If you are making a very simple model for children who are grades lower than seventh or eighth, you may want to disregard using any specific element if none was assigned. In this case, use seven of each electrons, protons and neutrons.
Putting Model Together
Use Styrofoam or plastic balls to form your nucleus. The nucleus is made up of protons and neutrons, so you will need one ball to represent each. Color or paint all of your protons one color, and neutrons another to show the difference. Glue the balls together so that they form one large ball. Glue the nucleus to a poster board so that you can arrange your electrons around it. Leave your electrons the color they are, or paint them a third color if you choose. Glue them around the nucleus, about 2 inches away from it. Space them evenly to show an orbit.