Introducing Electron Probability Density to High School Students Using a Spiral Drawing Toy

Authors: Kurushkin M.V.


A difficult topic to impart to students is the location of an electron within an atom. One possible way of introducing the concept of the electron probability density in an elementary classroom is by use of a Spirograph geometric ruler. Upon scrutinizing the generated patterns, it can be seen that they have areas that are notably dense and others that are almost bare. This probability density can be likened to that of the electron. The suggested activity was carried out with a group of 14-year-old students that had no prior knowledge of atomic structure.The gaps in the pattern and its color intensity gradient were commented on by the students. The students (N = 86) were given a post-test to evaluate their understanding. As the results show, 83% of the students’ grades were satisfactory. The present research suggests that the Spirograph activity is suitable for the primary introduction of the concept of probability density in an elementary classroom.

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.8b00391

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