To continue our exploration of elements, compounds, and mixtures, I set up an activity using Legos to model and further explore this concept. Each group of two students received 12 Legos in a quart sized baggie with 3 different colors, 4 pieces of each color. I explained how each Lego represents one atom. Just like real atoms, some Legos were bigger than others. Each color represented an atom of a different element. We reviewed the definitions for compounds and mixtures before we started the activity.
What I really liked about this activity was that it took an abstract concept and made it concrete for them, they could handle the Legos, see the different colors, they could see how elements create compounds, snapping the Legos together represented chemical bonds, and so forth. You could see the “a-ha” moments. The kids also had fun playing with the Legos. One boy made a little robot and asked – “Is this a compound?” And I asked, “Does it have 2 or more different elements bonded together?” And he said ”Yes!”, and I said, “Well, then it’s a compound! Good job!”
After the activity, to reinforce the concepts, I had a cut’n paste activity and review sheet. They had to have the cut’n paste checked before they glued it in. To borrow a quote from wood shop, I ask them to “dry fit” the pieces before they glued anything.
- Lego Activity – Building Blocks of Matter
- Categorize: Element, Compound, or Mixture?
- Practice: Element, Compound, or Mixture?