Activities

Excited States and Photons

Investigate how atoms can be excited to give off radiation.

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Requirements

This activity requires the Java Runtime Environment version 5 (sometimes referred to as 1.5) or later with Java Webstart. You can download it at java.com.

Investigate how atoms can be excited to give off radiation (photons) with models of electron energy diagrams. Explore the effects of energy levels in atoms through interactive computer models. Learn about the different electron orbitals of an atom, and explore three-dimensional models of the atoms. Learn about photons and why they are emitted, and gain an understanding of the link between energy levels and photons as you discover how an atom’s electron configuration affects which wavelengths of light it will admit or absorb.

» Teacher Guide

Students will be able to:

  • Determine that atoms have different energy levels and store energy when they go from a ground state to an excited state
  • Discover that different atoms require different amounts of energy to be excited
  • Explain that excited atoms give up energy in collisions
  • Explore the way atoms absorb and emit light of particular colors in the form of photons (“wave packets of energy“)
  • Determine that atoms interact with photons if the photons’ energy is equal to the difference between the atom’s excited and ground state
Download & Launch

Download Size: 5 MB

WARNING: Your data will not be saved. To save data, run this activity as a registered user. You can register at the project portal. Please view the requirements below before launching this activity.

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008)

1. The Nature of Science

1A. The Scientific Worldview
  • 1A/H2*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that from time to time, major shifts occur in the scientific view of how things work. More often, however, the changes that take place in the body of scientific knowledge are small modifications of prior knowledge. Continuity and change are persistent features of science.

4. The Physical Setting

4D. The Structure of Matter
  • 4D/H1*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that atoms are made of a positively charged nucleus surrounded by negatively charged electrons. The nucleus is a tiny fraction of the volume of an atom but makes up almost all of its mass. The nucleus is composed of protons and neutrons which have roughly the same mass but differ in that protons are positively charged while neutrons have no electric charge.
  • 4D/H2*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that the number of protons in the nucleus determines what an atom's electron configuration can be and so defines the element. An atom's electron configuration, particularly the outermost electrons, determines how the atom can interact with other atoms. Atoms form bonds to other atoms by transferring or sharing electrons.
4E. Energy Transformations
  • 4E/H1*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that although the various forms of energy appear very different, each can be measured in a way that makes it possible to keep track of how much of one form is converted into another. Whenever the amount of energy in one place diminishes, the amount in other places or forms increases by the same amount.
  • 4E/H4*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that chemical energy is associated with the configuration of atoms in molecules that make up a substance. Some changes of configuration require a net input of energy whereas others cause a net release.
  • 4E/H5*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that when energy of an isolated atom or molecule changes, it does so in a definite jump from one value to another, with no possible values in between. The change in energy occurs when light is absorbed or emitted, so the light also has distinct energy values. The light emitted or absorbed by separate atoms or molecules (as in a gas) can be used to identify what the substance is.
4F. Motion
  • 4F/H3a*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that when electrically charged objects undergo a change in motion, they produce electromagnetic waves around them.
  • 4F/H6c. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that the energy of waves (like any form of energy) can be changed into other forms of energy.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 11B/H1a*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that a mathematical model uses rules and relationships to describe and predict objects and events in the real world.
11D. Scale
  • 11D/M3**. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that natural phenomena often involve sizes, durations, and speeds that are extremely small or extremely large. These phenomena may be difficult to appreciate because they involve magnitudes far outside human experience.

Copyright
© Copyright The Concord Consortium

Record Link
<a href="stem-resources/excited-states-and-photons">The Concord Consortium. Excited States and Photons. Concord: The Concord Consortium, 2010, September 23.</a>

AIP
Excited States and Photons (The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2010, September 23), WWW Document, (http://concord.org/stem-resources/excited-states-and-photons).

AJP
Excited States and Photons (The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2010, September 23), WWW Document, (http://concord.org/stem-resources/excited-states-and-photons).

APA
Excited States and Photons. (2010, September 23). Retrieved 2014, December 19, from The Concord Consortium: http://concord.org/stem-resources/excited-states-and-photons

Disclaimer: The Concord Consortium offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure.

Requirements

This activity requires the Java Runtime Environment version 5 (sometimes referred to as 1.5) or later with Java Webstart. You can download it at java.com.

The download for this activity will require 5 MB of disk space.

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Science of Atoms and MoleculesThis resource is a part of the Concord Consortium's Science of Atoms and Molecules project.

Grade Level
High School, Higher Education
Subject
Physics
Focus Area
Modeling and Simulation
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