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.
I wanted to make my power point presentation an interactive and fun activity that would allow the kids to practice categorizing elements, compounds, and mixtures. We have been talking about properties of matter for a while and we are now starting to get into the meat of Chemistry with an introduction to how matter is classified. Soon we will explore elements and compounds in more depth.
Using the power point, we had a class discussion to introduce the topic. We went through the first few slides together. Each lab table was then given a set of large 4×6 index cards that are multicolored, each index card was two-toned, green on the front, red on the back, and blue on the front, and yellow on the back. The “E” stood for element, “C” for compound, “M” for mixture, and “?” for if they were not sure and could not decide. Groups of 3-4 worked well for this activity. I gave the index cards to two students in each group and they were in charge of holding the card up to show their answer.
I showed the first picture, and as a group, they had to decide if the item shown was made of an element, compound, or mixture. Once they decided on an answer, they were to hold up the corresponding card. Once everyone picked an answer, I revealed the correct answer and discussed why that item was an element, compound, or mixture. We didn’t keep score, but they were happy if they got an answer correct. The kids were very engaged and it was a simple way to make a power point presentation a little more interactive. We would then write down the answer into their notes under the corresponding column so they can see how the items are categorized.
After the ppt, we did the concept map together. I broke it into 1-2 minute chunks of time where they had to determine what went on the first level, then we would go over the answer. Another 1-2 minutes to decide what went on the second level, then discussed the answer, and so forth down the line until all the words were used from the word bank. This was a good closure activity to process the information from their notes and the activity.