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Pauli Exclusion Principle: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Tiffany Hightower

Tiffany is a certified elementary school teacher. She has a B.A. in English, education certification and a master's degree in education from Central Michigan University.

Wolfgang Pauli is an award-winning scientist who made important discoveries about atoms and electrons. In this lesson, you will learn about his Pauli Exclusion Principle, which is used to understand the electrons of atoms.

Who is Wolfgang Pauli?

A lot of people think 'scientist' is an exciting job; after all, scientists are able to conduct cool experiments and possibly make new discoveries for the whole world to learn about. This lesson will discuss a scientist named Wolfgang Pauli, who made some of those amazing discoveries and is still remembered for them today.

Wolfgang Pauli was a famous physicist, or a scientist who studies the field of physics. He was born in Austria in 1900 and lived to 1958. As a college student, he was very successful with learning about and researching science and eventually earned a doctorate degree.

As a scientist, Wolfgang Pauli discovered the Pauli Exclusion Principle in 1925, which you will learn more about in this lesson. He also went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945 for his accomplishments in science and physics.

What's an Atom?

To understand the Pauli Exclusion Principle, you first need to understand atoms. This is because the Pauli Exclusion Principle involves the electrons of atoms.

Electrons orbit around the nucleus of an atom. They cannot exist in the same location.
Electrons orbit around the nucleus of an atom.

An atom is the smallest, microscopic building block of substances. An atom looks sort of like the solar system. It has a nucleus, which looks similar to the sun, and an orbit, which looks similar to the orbit of planets around the sun.

Planets in orbit look similar to electrons in orbit in an atom.
Solar System Image Similar to Atoms

The nucleus of an atom contains even smaller particles called protons and neutrons. The orbit of an atom contains smaller electrons, which are important to the Pauli Exclusion Principle.

What's the Pauli Exclusion Principle?

Wolfgang Pauli studied how electrons move in atoms. Electrons have a negative electric charge and orbit around the nucleus of the atom. He noticed that electrons cannot be at the same place at the same time in the orbit of an atom. If two electrons are orbiting in an atom, they keep their distance from each other, instead of being in the same location and following the same path.

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