I was hoping that something tactile such as physically making electrons, protons, neutrons and making the isotope models when constructing the nuclear equations would engage some less motivated students more than the traditional pencil and paper way. The results were positive. Although some students worked slowly, the modelling forced them to discuss the terms and associate the colours of play-doh with the nuclear particles they had associated them with. This allowed the students to "play" and learn at the same time. Interestingly, the activity had a wide range of effects on the whole class. Strong academic students started teaching the other students the equations. Students shared ideas and corrected each other as they worked through the activities. Some students inquired about whether the atoms needed to display the electron shells. This further allowed students to use the play-doh to model electron shells and Bohr model diagrams. The activity was a pleasant surprise. All students participated and there was a significant level of inter-student discussion as well as peer coaching and teaching. I will try it again.
Post courtesy of Cory Hogg