While the element krypton is perhaps best known for is association with kryptonite -- Superman's lone weakness -- actual krypton and Superman are somewhat alike. As Superman spends most of his time as the nondescript Clark Kent until the atmosphere gets charged, krypton is an inert, colorless, odorless gas until run through with an electrical current, when it glows like a fluorescent light. As an element, the key to unlocking all of krypton's secrets lies in understanding its atomic structure.
- 48 larger Styrofoam balls
- 36 smaller Styrofoam balls
- 3 colors of markers or paint
- 18 metal rods: 1 maybe 4-6 inches; 4 about 6-8 inches, 9 about 8-10 inches, 4 about 10-12 inches.
Research krypton to determine how many materials you will need. Since krypton's atomic number is 36, you know it has 36 protons and electrons. Determine the average number of neutrons by finding the atomic mass, rounding it to the nearest whole number, then subtracting the number of protons, since protons plus neutrons equals atomic mass. The atomic weight of krypton is 83.798, which rounds to 84. 84-36=48 neutrons.
Find two different sizes of Styrofoam balls, 84 larger ones for protons and neutrons, 36 smaller ones for electrons. Styrofoam is the best material to use for a project such as this since it comes in many sizes, is cheap, simple to color and you can pierce it with the rods for the electrons.
Color 36 of the larger balls one color to be protons, 48 of them another to be neutrons; then color all the 36 electrons one color.
Glue the protons and neutrons together to form the nucleus.
Stick half the electrons onto one end of the metal rods while waiting for the glue to dry.
Pierce the nucleus with the rods of electrons then stick an electron onto the other end once through. So the rod holds an electron on each end with the nucleus at the center. The shortest rod should go in first, as it represents the inner-most energy level with two electrons. The four slightly longer ones should go in next as the next energy level has 8 electrons, followed by the nine medium-long ones for the 18 in the next energy level, followed by the four longest for the eight electrons in the outer-most energy level. Put the rods in at all possible angles to demonstrate the chaos of the electron cloud.
Write out a card explaining your model of the krypton atom. Since there are so many particles, it will be difficult for people to count each type of particle. Prove your model is accurate by writing which color particle is which, the number of each particle, and how many electrons are in each energy level on a card accompanying your model. Also consider providing other information, such as atomic mass, place in the periodic table, state of matter it is most commonly found in, its abundance on earth and uses. You cannot provide too much information.
Things You'll Need
- Jefferson Lab: Questions and Answers: How do I Make a Model of an Atom?
- University of Illinois: Department of Physics: Q & A: How to Build a Model Atom
- Jefferson Lab: Questions and Answers: What Does the Element Krypton Look Like?
- Environmental Chemistry: Periodic Table of Elements: Element Krypton - Kr
About the Author
Derek M. Kwait has a Bachelor of Arts in English writing from the University of Pittsburgh and has been writing for most of his life in various capacities. He has worked as a staff writer and videographer for the "Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh" and also has training writing fiction, nonfiction, stage-plays and screenplays.