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The Scientists Behind the Atom Mark as Favorite (34 Favorites)

PROJECT in History, Model of the Atom, Atomic Theory, Subatomic Particles. Last updated December 20, 2018.


In this project, students will create a digital (or paper) book about the scientists who contributed to our understanding of the atom.

Grade Level

High School


By the end of this project, students should be able to

  • Explain the specific contributions of Democritus, Aristotle, John Dalton, J.J. Thomson, Ernest Rutherford, Niels Bohr, Erwin Schrodinger, Albert Einstein, and Werner Heisenberg.
  • Understand past and current theories regarding the structure of the atom.

Chemistry Topics

This project supports students’ understanding of

  • Atomic Structure
  • Atomic Theory
  • Model of the atom
  • Subatomic particles
  • History of chemistry


Teacher Preparation: 1 hour

Lesson: 2-3 hours of class time, and assigned as homework


  • Student handout
  • Computer access (PowerPoint or Word)
  • Paper, markers, stapler, glue etc. (optional supplies for if they are making a paper book)

Project thescientistsbehindtheatom example

Teacher Notes

  • I recommend making an example book that students can use as a reference a sample page about Democritus is shown.
  • It is helpful to either have access to the internet so that they can research the history of the atom and the scientists or provide them with a handout with this information. A sample booklet of information has been included as a download.
  • This is a project that should take the students a couple of days (up to a week) to complete
  • I recommend providing the rubric to students so they can follow it and understand how they will be graded on the project (sample rubric provided).

For the Student


This project focuses on researching the history of the atom and the scientists behind the discoveries and theories. You will then make a book that covers all of the information about the history and discoveries of the atom. You will research the following scientists: Democritus, Aristotle, John Dalton, J.J. Thomson, Ernest Rutherford, Niels Bohr, Erwin Schrodinger, Albert Einstein, and Werner Heisenberg. As well, you will give a complete overview of the layout of a specific element and the history of that element.


You will have two class days to research the history of the atom and your specific element for your book.


Your book must contain the following sections:

  1. Title Page (The History of the Atom and your name)
  2. General Information (about the atom, scientists, and elements: definitions, symbols, terms, diagrams)
  3. Democritus*
  4. Aristotle*
  5. John Dalton
  6. J.J. Thomson
  7. Ernest Rutherford
  8. Niels Bohr
  9. Erwin Schrodinger
  10. Albert Einstein
  11. Werner Heisenberg
  12. Information about your element (name of element, symbol, atomic number, atomic mass, when and by whom it was discovered, common uses or reactions that it is used for in daily life, and interesting facts about it.)

For the scientists identified in sections 3-11 you must include the following information:

  • Name
  • Date of discovery (might be approximate)
  • Picture of scientist
  • Description of experiment (*or thoughts/thought experiments)
  • Atomic model they determined and a real world analogy for that model
  • An interesting fact and additional picture

You also must cite every reference that you use (including citations for the pictures that you use) and you are required to use a minimum of 3 references.


This book will be graded on a 25 point basis. The total will be multiplied by 3.4, for a possible grade of 85 if all minimum requirements are met. The rubric showing the grading for the minimum requirements is attached. Additional points can be earned for exceptional work. Some things that may earn extra points:

  • Numerous facts
  • Additional illustrations
  • Illustrations in color
  • Exceptional presentation