How Do I Build a 3D Iron Atom?

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Iron is an element, and its symbol is Fe. Although iron rusts easily, people use it for making steel, automobile frames and parts, building structures and tools. The iron atoms is made of 26 protons, 26 electrons and has 30 neutrons. The atom has four spherical energy levels. The first energy level has three electrons, the second has eight electrons, the third has 14 electrons and the fourth has two electrons. Building a model of this atom is simple, and makes an excellent project for science students.

    Lay a large piece of parchment paper on a flat surface. Paint all of the one inch Styrofoam balls blue, and paint the three inch Styrofoam ball yellow. Lay the balls on top of the parchment paper, and let the paint dry thoroughly. Paint the letters “Fe” on the yellow ball using the blue paint.

    Cut one piece of wire 36-inches long. Bend the wire into a circular shape. Push two of the blue Styrofoam balls onto one end of the wire. Make sure you don’t poke the wire into your hand, as you push the wire out the other side of the Styrofoam ball. Twist the ends of the wire together, and put one ball on each side of the circle. This represents the fourth energy level on the iron atom. Lay the wire circle to the side.

    Pick up the wire, and cut one piece of wire 30-inches long. Bend the wire into a circular shape. Push 14 blue Styrofoam balls onto the wire. Twist the ends of the wire together, and space the balls evenly around the circular shape. These balls end up about two inches apart. This represents the third energy level on the iron atom. Lay the wire circle to the side.

    Measure another piece of wire 24-inches long, and bend the wire into a circular shape. Push eight blue Styrofoam balls onto the wire. Twist the ends together, and spread the balls evenly around the circle. There is about three inches between each ball. This represents the second energy level on the iron atom.

    Cut the next piece of wire 18-inches long. Bend the wire into a circular shape. Feed two blue Styrofoam balls onto the wire. Wrap the ends of the wire together. Push one ball on each side of the wire. This represents the first energy level of the iron atom.

    Pick up the wire, and cut off an eight-inch piece. Catch one end of the wire with the needle nose pliers, and bend it in towards the strip of wire. This forms a small loop at the end of the wire. Push the straight end of the wire through the yellow Styrofoam ball. Bend the end of the wire without the loop into an “L” shape. This makes the ball secure, and keeps it from falling off. The loop at the top is the hanger for connecting it to the loops of wire with the electrons.

    Lay the 18-inch wire circle on a flat surface. Lay the 24-inch wire circle on the flat surface with the 18-inch circle inside. Put the 30-inch and 36-inch on the flat surface going from the largest to the smallest.

    Roll out 24-inches of fishing wire, and cut it. Tie one end of the fishing wire to the loop on the yellow Styrofoam ball. Place the yellow Styrofoam ball in the center of the 18-inch circle. Loop the fishing wire around the 18-inch circle. Tie a knot, and loop it around the 24-inch circle. Keep the circles evenly spaced as you work.

    Tie a knot on the circle. Loop the fishing wire around the 30-inch circle, and tie a knot. Loop the fishing wire around the last circle, and tie a knot. Tie a loop at the end of the remaining fishing wire. This loop is for hanging the model from the ceiling. Cut off any excess fishing wire.

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