Lesson Plan: Electron Energy Levels Physics

This lesson plan includes the objectives, prerequisites, and exclusions of the lesson teaching students how to determine whether an electron shell of an atom is filled and which electron transitions are possible in a given atom.


Students will be able to

  • understand that electrons in atoms are in discrete energy levels,
  • understand electron shell diagrams:
    • understand that the nucleus is at the center,
    • understand that the circles around the center represent electron shells,
    • understand that the circles/shells/energy levels are counted from the innermost to the outermost,
  • understand the terms electron energy level and electron shell,
  • understand when an electron shell is filled:
    • know how many electrons can fit into each of the first three shells of an atom (2, 8, and 18),
    • identify whether a given shell is filled or unfilled from a diagram,
  • understand that the shells further out can carry more electrons than those further in,
  • identify elements based on electron shell configurations shown in diagrams for both neutral and charged atoms,
  • understand excited states:
    • understand the term excited states,
    • identify electrons in excited states,
  • understand electron transitions:
    • identify allowed transitions,
    • know that a photon is absorbed or emitted in a transition,
    • know that electron transitions between states that are further apart produce higher-energy photons.


Students should already be familiar with

  • the idea that atoms are made up of a nucleus surrounded by electrons,
  • the idea that atomic nuclei are made up of protons and neutrons,
  • the idea that protons are positively charged, neutrons are neutral, and electrons are negatively charged.


Students will not cover

  • calculating the energy of absorbed or emitted photons,
  • subshells,
  • mean excited state lifetime,
  • nuclear excited states/nuclear decays,
  • electron wave characteristics.

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