Introduction: Atomic Fidget Spinner

During our study of Physics, I like to give my students a concrete idea of the parts of the atom. Using just 15 pieces of LEGO, we built fidget spinners that demonstrate how the protons and neutrons stay together in the nucleus of the atom, while the electron spins around it. We also talk about the fact that, ordinarily, the number of protons equals the number of electrons.

Step 1: Assemble Your Pieces.

For each spinner, you will need 4 2 X 4 stud bricks, 2 connectors, 1 4 1/2 centimeter axle, 1 round 4 x 4 with hole (wheel), 2 round 2 x 2 with hole and 5 small brick caps.

Step 2: Adding the "wheel".

Slide the 4 x 4 round "wheel" up to the middle of the axle. Push a connector on each end. DO NOT push the connectors all the way, or else the wheel won't spin. Adjust as necessary.

Step 3: Add the 2 X 2 Round Pieces.

Push one on either end of the axle so that they touch the little connectors. Keep making sure that the wheel spins freely.

Step 4: Add the Protons and Neutrons.

The top 2 x 2 round piece is now the NUCLEUS of the atom spinner. The small cap pieces will be the protons and neutrons. I added two red protons and 1 gray neutron to my nucleus.

Step 5: Add Electron "shells".

Snap the 2 x 4 bricks along the circumference of the 4 x 4 wheel. Continue adjusting the pieces so that they spin easily.

Step 6: Adding the Electrons.

Use the remaining small brick caps to create electrons in different parts of the shell. As you spin the "shells", notice how the electrons move as well.

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