3D Atom Model Project Ideas

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Everything is made from atoms making it important for students to understand their structure and components. This asset contains project ideas for students to build their own 3-D models of atoms.

3 - D Atom

When students understand the structure of an atom, it leads to greater comprehension of the way atoms from different elements come together to create new substances. These projects require students in upper elementary and middle school levels to demonstrate what they know about how subatomic particles form the atoms that form everything else.

Edible Atoms

Engage students in learning with this hands-on, collaborative model that students can eat.

Grade level: 4th - 7th grade


  • latex gloves
  • large cookies (1 per group)
  • frosting in dispenser
  • 3 different colors of coated candy
  • periodic table

Time: 1 day


  • atom
  • proton
  • neutron
  • electron
  • nucleus

Research Topics & Guiding Questions:

  • What are the components of an atom?
  • How can I use the periodic table to determine the right number of protons, neutrons, and electrons?


  • Divide students into small groups. Provide each group with a set of materials.
  • Assign each group an element.
  • Have students work together to determine the correct number of each subatomic particle for their element.
  • Have students determine which color of candy represents each subatomic particle and create a key.
  • Have students create a model of an atom by using frosting to attach the protons and neutrons (candies) in the nucleus on the atom (cookie) and drawing electron shells using frosting around the nucleus for proper placement of the electrons.
  • Have students explain their model to the class before enjoying their treat.

Balloon Model

This model provides students with a kinesthetic project that demonstrates the composition of an atom and relative positioning and size of the subatomic particles.

Grade level: 3rd - 8th


  • poster board
  • balloons
  • 3 colors of art tissue
  • tape
  • periodic table
  • markers

Time: 1 week


  • orbitals
  • periodic table

Research Topics & Guiding Questions:

  • How do protons, neutrons, and electrons compare in size?
  • What are the characteristics of a neutral atom?


  • Divide students into pairs. Provide each pair with a set of materials.
  • Have each pair select an element from the periodic table. Have students label their poster board according with the name of their element, atomic weight, atomic mass, and number of each subatomic particle.
  • Have students choose the color of art tissue to represent protons, neutrons, and electrons. Have students create the subatomic particles by rolling up pieces of art tissue into balls. Students should pay particular attention to the size and number of balls for each subatomic particle.
  • Have students place the appropriate number of protons and neutrons inside the balloon and then blow it up and tie it off to represent the nucleus of the atom. Have students tape the nucleus to the center of the poster board.
  • Students should then draw the orbitals on the poster board around the nucleus and place the electrons in the proper position around the orbitals.
  • Display the posters to give all students an opportunity to learn about the atoms of various elements.

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