History of the atom



This WebQuest is intended to have learners use a methodical approach, analytical thinking, creativity, teamwork, collaboration and Internet resources to research, learn and accomplish tasks about the history of the atom.

Do you like playing LEGO? Yep, right. Who doesn’t? But have you ever thought that so does the Universe? Let’s find out which are the building blocks of everything that surrounds us and how the knowledge and understanding about them evolved over time.

But before that, here are a few things you will need to know:


The goal of this WebQuest is to help you discover the researcher and scientist in you. You will have to develop and improve the most important skills that determine one, such as a methodical approach to problem-solving, a high level of organization, analytical thinking, willingness to discover what is under the surface and understanding of the laws of the Universe.

The learners should work in groups of 2 to 4 people. Each learner should select one scientist who changed the ideas and views about the atom’s structure. In their research, each learner must point out the discoveries made by the selected scientist and how they affect the conceptions then.

At the end, please prepare a .ppt presentation, Prezi (or other multimedia) to present the key inventions, discoveries and new ideas the scientist of your choice made. Work in а team and share the information you gathered with the rest of the members of your team. 

The information within should be well organized, factual, and well-formed. It is important to demonstrate a good level of internet and technology usage.

Step 1: Make a quick research on the topics below. After each topic there are additional materials that will help you clarify the subject. You may use these resources as an entry point of your research.

  1. What is an atom - https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/basic-ref/students/science-101/what-is-an-atom.html
  2. What is the atom structure - https://www.atomicarchive.com/science/physics/atomic-structure.html#:~:text=An%20atom%20is%20a%20complex,are%20roughly%20the%20same%20size.
  3. What are the electrons - https://www.britannica.com/science/electron
  4. What is an atom’s nucleus - https://www.wondriumdaily.com/what-is-inside-an-atom-nucleus/
  5. What does an atomic number mean - https://www.angelo.edu/faculty/kboudrea/periodic/structure_numbers.htm
  6. What are the isotopes - https://www.energy.gov/science/doe-explainsisotopes#:~:text=Isotopes%20are%20members%20of%20a,and%20is%20atomic%20number%206.
  7. What are the forces within the atom - https://www.physics.louisville.edu/cldavis/phys111/davis/notes/ap_sandf.html , https://www.eni.com/en-IT/scientific-research/atoms-fundamental-forces.html , https://webs.morningside.edu/slaven/Physics/atom/atom2.html 
  8. What is atomic mass - https://www.britannica.com/science/atomic-mass
  9. What is atomic radius - https://www.toppr.com/guides/chemistry/classification-of-elements-and-periodicity-in-properties/atomic-radius/#:~:text=Atomic%20radius%20is%20the%20distance,the%20electron%20cloud%20is%20maximum.
  10. What is radioactive decay - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_decay#:~:text=Radioactive%20decay%20(also%20known%20as,unstable%20nuclei%20is%20considered%20radioactive.
  11. Energy levels of the atom - https://skyserver.sdss.org/dr1/en/proj/advanced/spectraltypes/energylevels.asp
  12. Formation of the atoms – theories. - http://cstl-csm.semo.edu/cwmcgowan/ch181/atomhist.htm


Step 2:

After you gain a basic foundation and understanding of the atom, chose one topic of interest from the aforementioned list. Search the internet and YouTube to find more about it: how the concept was developed, who made the discovery, and name some famous scientists who worked in that field. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/


Step 3:

Each member of the team should choose a scientist and explore and research his or her biography and studies. Then gather your findings and go to step 4.


Step 4:  

Create a presentation. Here is a sample structure:

  1. Introduction – briefly introduce the audience to the topic.
  2. Key concepts and theories and their evolution over time
  3. Present the scientists you have researched and what is their contribution.
  4. Challenge your audience with a discussion what the world would be like if these inventions had not been made. What the world would be like if these discoveries were not made


Everything we take today as given has evolved and changed over time. Knowledge is a fundamental pillar of human evolution that wouldn’t even be established without critical thinking, bright ideas and dedication. Be an active part of your future. 

On the completion of this WebQuest, the learner will be able to:



  • Presentation skills
  • Methodical approach to problem-solving
  • High level of organization
  • Decision making
  • Creativity
  • Research


In addition, learners will:

  • learn to practice teamwork through active group participation;
  • learn how to use their minds, their voices, and their ears to constructively engage and collaborate with others;
  • develop a sense of confidence and belief in themselves and their decision making;
  • learn how to communicate effectively (using written and spoken word, non-verbal language, electronic tools, and listening skills).

Evaluation of learning achievements

In this section we will not dive very deep into the underlying educational theories about evaluation and testing: there’s too much out there than we could possibly cover in this small project report.

Instead, we want to concentrate on procedures that enable both students/pupils and their teachers to establish if the learning goals of the Webquest were achieved and, if so, to what extent. We recommend teachers make use of a combined evaluation procedure, that consists of:

  1. Statements by learners (after being asked to do so)
    • telling what they learned about the subject (knowledge-oriented self-evaluation): now (after going through the Webquest) I know that …
    • telling what he/she learned about herself/himself (formative evaluation, in this case, diagnostic self-evaluation): now (after going through the Webquest) I know about myself that I …
      This pair of basic statements add up to a so-called learner report, in which the pupil/student reflects on what the Webquest brought him/her in terms of acquired knowledge and new personal views and attitudes concerning the subject.

    For instance:

    • ‘I learned that in medieval times the hygiene of people was hardly a concern which helped to let epidemic diseases like the Plague cause so many casualties’ Or:
    • ‘I learned the facts and I know the earth is warming, but I cannot understand why people were so stupid to pollute the world and let it warm up so much.
    • ‘I learned from the information about diseases that this subject is more appealing to me than I would expect in advance: maybe I should consider a medical career’. Or:
      ‘The Webquests confirms what I thought already: I could not care less about the climate and global warming. In fact, I thought it was all a hoax and I still do!’

    This kind of assessment seems more subjective than it actually is: in his standard work on testing and evaluation (and much more), simply called Methodology (1974), Prof. A.D. de Groot described how consistent the student’s self-evaluations appeared to be: when asked again after 5 or 10 years, their evaluation would almost be the same. De Groot advised teachers to use the learner report as a start for joint evaluations, striving for consensus between teacher and student/pupil about the learning outcomes and their value for the learner, but also compared with the learning objectives as stated in the curriculum.

  2. The learning achievements are visible in the output produced by the students: it is physical evidence: reports, answers to questions asked in the Webquest, presentations, and performance during presentations (preferably recorded). The teacher completes an evaluation grid stating clearly what the learning outcomes for the student/pupil are. The categories in the grid can be modified by the teacher to cover more precisely the content of a Webquest.

    >We advise teachers to use the grid to start a joint evaluation discussion, aiming at consensus or at least understanding between the teacher and the student/pupil about the learning outcomes: were they achieved (as planned in the curriculum and communicated before the Webquest started) and to what extent? To communicate the learning goals clearly before any learning activity starts, is a transparency requirement that is widely acknowledged in the educational community. The history of making learning objectives explicit goes back to the evaluation ‘Bible’ by Bloom, Hastings and Madaus: ‘Handbook on formative and summative evaluation of student learning’ (1971), a standard work that also served as inspiration for the earlier mentioned Prof. De Groot.


The procedure also applies when students/pupils have worked together on a Webquest. The teacher will ask questions about individual contributions: ‘What did you find? What part did you write? How did you find the illustrations? Who made  the final presentation?’

All the evidence (of learning efforts and outcomes plus joint evaluations) is preferably stored in the learning portfolio of the student, or in any other suitable storage system (folders with written or printed documents, online collection of files, etcetera ).

Changes in personal points of view and feelings are harder to value and here the consensus between teacher and student/pupil about experiences during the learning process provides essential insights.

The grid below gives an example of how the evaluation of the learning process and achievements can be shaped: what kind of reactions to the Webquest does the teacher expect and how valuable are they? Is the teacher capable to explain the value or score allocated to answers or presentations given by pupils? Does the pupil/student understand the evaluation outcomes, and does he/she agree? If an agreement (consensus is not possible, it is still the teacher who decides how to value the student’s work.

Please note that the text in the grid addresses the pupil/student directly: this is important and it is in fact a prerequisite for using such an evaluation grid: it is specifically meant to enable a discussion of learning results between teacher and student and not to communicate learning achievements of learners to others who had no direct role in the Webquest.

Evaluation Grid

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Talk To Us

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Funded by
sCOOL-IT erasmus logo EN

The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Talk To Us

t: +357 2466 40 40
f: +357 2465 00 90

Funded by
sCOOL-IT erasmus logo EN

The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Talk To Us

t: +357 2466 40 40
f: +357 2465 00 90

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