Atomic Mobile

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Learners make a mobile model of a carbon atom using clay, wire, and pipe cleaners. Learners will use the periodic table as a guide and explore how atoms are made up of a nucleus of protons and neutrons with orbiting electrons. The activity includes a PDF file of a periodic table and a guide for reading it.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per student)

  • Periodic Table
  • scissors
  • wire and pipe cleaners
  • clay (3 different colors)
  • thin string, thread, or nylon thread


  • Physical Sciences
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
      • Elements and Periodic Table
      • Elementary Particles and Nuclear Physics

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Model Building


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Ology


  • All rights reserved, American Museum of Natural History,