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What's all the matter? Atoms and molecules

Atoms, elements and molecules. Understanding the building blocks of matter. Created by MIT+K12.
Video transcript
(boppy music) - Hey, Ahmed! - Hey, Liz. - I'm going to teach you something really cool. Are you ready? - Sure. - Okay, so what I want you to do is I want you to rip this paper in half every time I tell you to. - Okay, great. - Ready? Rip. Ready? Rip. (speedy music) - It's too small. I can't cut it anymore. - No, Ahmed, your fingers are just too big. No, but you're right. At some point, you wouldn't be able to rip it anymore. That smallest, unrippable piece is called an atom. - I'm not quite sure I understand. Can you show me? - Well, and atom is really, really, really small, so you can't see it with your naked eye, but to help us understand, I brought these blocks. What do you see? - [Ahmed] A bunch of blocks. - [Liz] Are they all the same? - [Ahmed] Yes, each block has the same parts. - [Liz] Right. Each block is made up of a base and some number of bumps. This is true of every block. In the same way, an atom is made up of a very specific set of pieces. An atom has a central core and an outer shell. We call the central core of the atom the nucleus. The outer shell surrounding the nucleus is made of particles called electrons. So, we can represent the atom as a block whose nucleus is the base and electrons are the bumps. - [Ahmed] Okay, so the blocks are atoms. But some of the blocks looks different from others. Is this true with atoms, too? - [Liz] Yes, and to make this very obvious, we can organize the blocks by color. See how the ones with the same color have the same size and number of bumps? A block of a certain color is unique and has different properties compared to other blocks of a different color. This is the same with atoms. There are different atoms, and each type of atom is called an element, and it is unique and has its own properties. - [Ahmed] Oh, I get it. - [Liz] But that's not all. The structure of the atom, just like the block, is also important. Can you see why? - [Ahmed] Well, there are those bumps. - [Liz] And what do you think it can do with these bumps? - [Ahmed] I guess they'll let me connect them together. - [Liz] Right. Just like the bumps allow me to connect different blocks together, the electrons allow me to bring together different atoms to make new, unique combinations. The electrons are shared between the atoms, and the sharing of electrons is called a bond. We can bond the blocks together with different number of bumps. The more bumps we use, the stronger the bond. Here's a bond. Here's a stronger bond. And here's an even stronger bond. This is the same with atoms. There are different bond strengths depending on how many electrons they share. - [Ahmed] Awesome! Bonding is fun! So is this still called an atom? - [Liz] No. When the atoms bond together they form what is called a molecule. A molecule is just more than one atom bonded together. - [Ahmed] Wow! I'm learning a lot. - [Liz] But you're not done yet! There are many ways atoms can come together to form different kinds of molecules. - [Ahmed] This is beginning to sound complicated. - [Liz] It's okay. Let's recap what we learned. Simply, atoms are building blocks, and molecules are just two or more atoms bonded together. And although we can't see atoms or molecules, we see and interact with the things that they are made from every day. (jazz music)