Question Video: Calculating the Number of Protons in an Atom That Contains 6 Electrons Science

An atom contains 6 electrons. How many protons does the nucleus of the atom have?


Video Transcript

An atom contains six electrons. How many protons does the nucleus of the atom have?

The question tells us that an atom contains six electrons. Electrons are negatively charged. To balance out this negative charge, atoms have positively charged protons in the nucleus. But the question is “how many?”

Electrons and protons have relative charges of minus one and plus one, respectively. The six electrons, therefore, contribute a charge of minus six. But the question tells us that the species is an atom, not an ion. Thus, it will not have an overall charge. This means the protons must contribute a charge of positive six. As each proton has a relative charge of plus one, the nucleus will contain six protons. It will also contain neutrons, but neutrons won’t be discussed in this video.

We can therefore see that for a neutral atom the number of protons is equivalent to the number of electrons. So, a neutral atom with six electrons will contain six protons in its nucleus.

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