Building 3D models is a common activity in science class. The 3D models give kids a better understanding of how various scientific elements work and look. A 3D atom model is simple to make and requires only a few supplies. The main components of atoms are protons, neutrons and electrons. The nucleus is made up of the protons and neutrons. Color-coding the components of the atoms in the model helps easily identify them for a better understanding of the atom's construction.
Choose three different colors of paint for the balls. The colors will represent protons, neutrons and electrons. Decide which color you want to paint each component.
Press a toothpick into each Styrofoam ball to create a handle for painting. This allows you to paint the entire ball at once.
Paint six of the balls one color (to create proton models), six balls the second color (for the neutron models) and the last six balls the third color (for the electron models), holding onto the toothpicks as you paint. Press the other end of the toothpicks into the Styrofoam sheet to allow them to dry.
Use a permanent marker or a fourth color of paint to draw a plus sign (+) on the protons. This represents their positive charge.
Draw a minus sign (-) on the electrons to represent their negative charge.
Connect the protons and neutrons to create the nucleus using toothpicks. Arrange them so they look like a clump of the two different colors of balls. You might need to break the toothpicks to create short pieces for holding the balls together. You can also use glue to hold them together.
Cut the wooden skewers so there are about six skewers 6 to 8 inches long. Press one end of each skewer in each of the electrons. Press the other end of the skewer into one of the protons or neutrons in the nucleus. Arrange all of the electrons in the same way around the nucleus, creating the electron cloud.
Different types of atoms have different numbers of protons, neutrons and electrons. Adjust the number of Styrofoam balls as needed, using the periodic table of the elements as a guide.