Basic Structure of Elements

The following is a textbook quote which really is the fundamentals of what chemistry is. Read at your own pace and come back to it if you ever get stuck with some of the concepts. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to see chemistry on the scale provided below, however we can do experiments to prove that it’s there and how it works.

Note: The words in BOLD are the key vocabulary words to learn for the topic.

All matter is made up of small particles which we call atoms. Some atoms join together to form larger particles which we call molecules. If all the atoms in a particular molecule are the same, then we call this a molecule of an element. If the atoms are different, it is called a molecule of a compound.

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Atoms are made up of even smaller particles. The largest of the 3 that we’ve confirmed are – protons, neutrons and electrons. There are other theoretical particles which we will not explore in this topic.

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Protons and netrons make up the centre part of an atom, called the nucleus. Electrons orbit around the nucleus of the atom. The proton and the electron are electrically charged while the neutron is not.

  • Proton = Positive
  • Electron = Negative
  • Neutron = Neutral
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Atoms in their normal state without being bonded have no electric charge. This is because they contain equal numbers of protons and electrons. When there are not equal numbers of the two, we get a charged particle called an ion.

Neutrons do not follow this same rule however and there can be varying number which makes the mass of elements not exact. Mostly though, they will be equal to the number of protons or more to balance the charge.

Use your periodic table to identify the different elements.

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