Rutherford’s Gold Foil Experiment & Atomic Model

A friend showed me a fabulous lesson plan to teach about Ernest Rutherford, his atomic model, and his gold foil experiment.

She began the lesson by playing a game to help students estimate the size of something they can’t see. Inside a large box (the cave), she placed a can (the monster) and cut slits out of the bottom of the box so students could slide checker pieces through. Analogous with Rutherford’s gold foil experiment, most checker pieces slide straight through while some bounce off the “monster” at small angles and others bounce backwards. This is to help students understand how Rutherford determined the nucleus of an atom must me massive and dense.
Then, she showed the animation found on this website that explains Rutherford’s experiment. A great way to discuss the atomic models
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