How to Make a Model of Oxygen for School

••• kugel image by Stephanie Bandmann from

Oxygen is the most profuse gas in the Earth's crust and the second most ample in the Earth's atmosphere. It is also a common element required for elementary and high school science projects. You can focus on either the oxygen atom or the diatomic oxygen molecule for your school project. Clearly label each item in your oxygen model and check your teacher's instructions for additional requirements.

Single Oxygen Atom Model

    Cut each of the Styrofoam spheres in half. Discard one half each of the 6-inch and 1-inch wide spheres. Place each of the remaining sphere halves flat-side down on your work surface.

    Paint the largest sphere one color; blue is traditionally used for oxygen. Paint the large sphere's curved side as well as the flat bottom. Paint the curved sides the smallest sphere halves yellow or a lighter color. Paint the 1-inch sphere-half a darker color on the curved side. Allow all pieces to dry.

    Place the large sphere-half with the flat side facing up. Using white puff paint, trace a circle about one inch in from the outside edge. Glue the 1-inch sphere half into the exact center of the larger sphere, flat side down. Trace another circle with white paint about two inches out from the center of the atom.

    Glue two 1/2-inch sphere-halves on either side of the middle circle. These will orbit the darker nucleus you glued to the center. Space the remaining six sphere-halves evenly around the largest white paint circle. Allow everything to dry completely before moving the oxygen model.

    Make white labels for each part of the oxygen atom on narrow strips of paper. Write electron, nucleus, protons and neutrons, and oxygen atom on each strip. Roll the edge of each strip around a toothpick and secure with glue or tape. Push the electron label into one of the smallest sphere-halves orbiting the oxygen nucleus. Push the oxygen atom label into the top of the largest sphere. Push the nucleus label into the top of the center sphere. Use a paintbrush to make 16 dots on the nucleus, eight each of two colors. Push the protons and neutrons label into the center of this sphere inside one of the painted dots.

Oxygen Molecule Model

    Create an oxygen molecule that contains two oxygen atoms with double bonds. Paint two tennis or Styrofoam balls a solid color. Allow them to dry.

    Cut a small hole in the top and bottom of each tennis ball. Skip this step if using Styrofoam balls. Hold one tennis ball with the holes aligned at the top and bottom. Place the second ball beside it with the holes at the top and bottom.

    Push one end of a pipe cleaner into the top hole of one ball. Push the other end into the top of the second ball. Push until there is no slack in the pipe cleaner and it rests evenly at the top of the balls, connecting them. Push a second pipe cleaner into the holes on the bottom of the balls. If using Styrofoam, simply push pipe cleaner into the foam to secure. Add glue around the holes.

    Things You'll Need

    • 6-inch wide Styrofoam sphere
    • 4 half-inch wide spheres
    • 1 one-inch sphere
    • craft glue
    • craft knife
    • white paper
    • scissors
    • toothpick
    • acrylic paint
    • paint brush
    • white puff paint
    • pipe cleaners


    • Do not use spray paint from an aerosol can; it will melt Styrofoam.


About the Author

Amanda Herron is a photojournalist and writer whose credits include: "Georgia Realtor Magazine," "Jackson Parent Magazine," "Christian Guitarist and Bassist" and the Associated Press. Herron has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in Education from Union University. She is a member of the NPPA and has awards from the Tennessee Press Association and Baptist Press.

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