Module 3: Atoms, Elements, and Molecules

Before continuing, please take the pre-test.

The Exploring Florida Science modules are designed to help teachers improve their content knowledge and more effectively communicate science concepts to their students. The modules focus on technology-rich science content and teaching materials that allow educators to simultaneously address multiple strands in the Sunshine State Standards for Science. Suggested lesson plans offer ideas for how teachers can incorporate these concepts in their classrooms.

Chemistry is the science addressing the composition and properties of matter, along with the changes it undergoes during chemical reactions. Chemistry is a central science which joins together physics, biology, math, and environmental sciences. The application of chemical principles allows us to meet our basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, health, energy, clean air, clean water, and clean soil.


To link the content links place a named anchor tag around the Header you wish to link to. For example:

Item 1

  1. Pre-test
  2. Introduction
  3. Scientist's Story
  4. Content and Lessons
  5. Digital Resources
  6. FCAT Connections
  7. Sunshine State Standards
  8. Misconceptions
  9. Post-test

Scientist’s StoryBack to top


Read the stories of how these people became interested in careers in science.

The Scientist’s Story feature of this module shows how the featured scientists became interested in careers in science. The featured scientists for this module are Jonathan Merten and Aubrey Dyer, both of whom are graduate students in chemistry at the University of Florida. If desired, this feature can be projected in the classroom.

Content and LessonsBack to top

This module presents detailed lessons about the following four topics in chemistry: Atomic Theory, Chemical Compounds, Stoichiometry, and Chemical Periodicity. Teachers will be guided through the material and have frequent opportunities to check their understanding. Interactive animations are also provided to illustrate concepts. Instructions for navigating these pages are found at the beginning of the Atomic Theory chapter.

1. Atomic Theory - Historical Models of the Atom, Chemical Symbols, Moles

This lesson combines history with chemistry to teach about how our understanding of the atom has changed over the years. Find out about Dalton's Atomic Theory, Thomson's charge/mass experiment, Millikan's Oil Drop Experiment, the "Plum Pudding" model of the atom, and Rutherford's Gold Foil Experiment. The concepts of isotopes, atomic mass, and moles are also explained.

2. Chemical Compounds - Formulas, Percent Composition, and Naming

Lesson 2 explores the nature of chemical compounds and formulas. What makes a metal different from a nonmetal? What is the difference between ionic and covalent compounds? What are oxidation numbers? How are chemical compounds named?

3. Stoichiometry - Balancing Equations, Reactions, Yields

The word "stoichiometry" comes from the Greek language and means "measuring the parts or the elements." This lesson explains how to balance chemical equations, how to predict which reagent will be limiting, and how to predict percent yields of a reaction. The behavior of solutions is explored as well.

4. Chemical Periodicity - Electron Orbitals, Atomic Sizes

Lesson 4 unlocks the mysteries of the periodic table. The patterns found within the table are defined in terms of orbital energies and electron configurations. Atomic sizes, ionization energies, and electron affinities all have predictable patterns across the rows and columns of the periodic table.

External Resources and Web Sites

A variety of chemistry-related web sites and other external resources have been identified. To access these resources, click here. To see external hands-on activities and experiments, click here. These web sites and resources are stored using, a social bookmarking website.

Digital ResourcesBack to top

Clip Art

Every item comes with a choice of image size and format as well as complete source information for proper citations in school projects. A friendly license allows teachers and students to use up to 50 items in a single, non-commercial project without further permission.


FCAT ConnectionsBack to top

These pdf files contain multiple-choice FCAT practice questions related to the content of this module. Question sets are targeted for grades 6-8 and grades 9-12.

Grades 6-8

Available for teachers: [FCAT questions pdf] Available for students: [FCAT questions pdf]

Grades 9-12

Available for teachers: [FCAT questions pdf] Available for students: [FCAT questions pdf]

Sunshine State StandardsBack to top

The Atoms, Elements, and Molecules module focuses on topics fundamental to the study of chemistry. Lists of the 1996 standards with benchmarks are provided as PDF files. The standards listed here include the original 1996 standards and the new 2008 standards.

Grades 9-12 (1996 Standards)

The 1996 Sunshine State Standards for grades 9-12 are available as a PDF to view, download, or print.

Strand A: The Nature of Matter
Standard 1 - The student understands that all matter has observable, measurable properties. (SC.A.1.4): BM 1-5
Standard 2 - The student understands the basic principles of atomic theory. (SC.A.2.4): BM 1-6
Strand B: Energy
Standard 1 - The student recognizes that energy may be changed in form with varying efficiency. (SC.B.1.4): BM 2, 3, 6
Standard 2 - The student understands the interaction of matter and energy. (SC.B.2.4): BM 1
Strand G: How Living Things Interact With Their Environment
Standard 1 - The student understands the competitive, interdependent, cyclic nature of living things in the environment. (SC.G.1.4): BM 3
Strand H: The Nature of Science
Standard 1 - The student uses the scientific processes and habits of mind to solve problems. (SC.H.1.4): BM 1-7
Standard 3 - The student understands that science, technology and society are interwoven and interdependent. (SC.H.3.4): BM 1, 3

Grades 9-12 (2008 Standards)

Nature of Science
Standard 1 - The Practice of Science SC.912.N.1.1 - 1.7
Standard 2 - Characteristics of Scientific Knowledge SC.912.N.2.4, 2.5
Standard 3 - The Role of Theories, Laws, Hypotheses and Models SC.912.N.3.1 - 3.5
Standard 4 - Science and Society SC.912.N.4.1
Earth/Space Science
Standard 5 - Earth in Space and Time SC.912.E.5.6
Physical Science
Standard 8 - Matter SC.912.P.8.2 - 8.10
Life Science
Standard 18 - Matter and Energy Transformations SC.912.L.18.11, 18.12

MisconceptionsBack to top

The relationship among subatomic particles, atoms, molecules, and compounds is confusing for some students when they begin to study chemistry. Misconceptions or alternative conceptions are beliefs that are not scientifically accurate. The teacher’s roles include identifying misconceptions and then creating experiences in which students can explore their own ideas and adopt the correct concepts. Students may have one or more of the following misconceptions about the subject of chemistry. These misconceptions could be used as a starting point for classroom discussion.

Now that you've finished you can take the post-test to evaluate your progress.