The Line Spectra Concept Builder is an adjustable-size file that displays nicely on smart phones, on tablets such as the iPad, on Chromebooks, and on laptops and desktops. The size of the Concept Builder can be scaled to fit the device that it is displayed on. The compatibility with smart phones, iPads, other tablets, and Chromebooks make it a perfect tool for use in a 1:1 classroom.


Teaching Ideas and Suggestions:

We're going to be honest: we do Physics. That's why this is called The Physics Classroom website. And when we do the Teacher's Notes section for our Concept Builders, we typically have a lot to say ... and a lot of resources to point you to. We're not claiming to be ignorant of chemistry; we just don't have a lot of resources here at The Physics Classroom to point you to. And so this page is going to be a lot shorter than our usual page that accompanies our Physics Concept Builders. That's our honest confession.

Most teachers of Chemistry have a unit on atomic structure. One common activity is to survey the line spectra of elements. The experience is often tied to a discussion of energy states and electron transitions between them. This Concept Builder focuses on the relationship between the line colors of an emission spectrum and the frequency and wavelength of the emitted radiation and the energy difference between the two states between which the electron transitions..

The Concept Builder consists of 22 Questions that are organized into 7 Question Groups and spread across three distinctly different activities. The three activities can be described as follows:
  • Paragraph Completion: Question Group 1 ... Students complete a paragraphby identifying the word or phrase that accurately completes 7 different blanks.
  • Line Identification: Question Groups 2-4 ... Students associate a color on a line spectrum to each of three stated values of either wavelength, frequency, or energy.
  • Match That Color: Question Groups 5-7 ... Students use an energy level diagram and match one of three given colored lines to each of three energy state transitions.

Like all our Concept Builders, this Concept Builder utilizes a variety of strategies to make each student's experience different. This will be most evident on the second and third activity. The ordering of questions is random. The Question number assigned to each question is scrambled. So two side-by-side students are not likely to have the same question for question number three. And questions are organized into "groups" with questions within the same group being very similar (for instance, they may present different data to the student) but not identical. The first activity is quite different in that every student has the same paragraph to complete and the same set of phrases to uses when completing the paragraph.

The Concept Builder also keeps track of student progress. It requires that students demonstrate a mastery of questions in each Question Group. If they miss a question from group, then they will have to answer two consecutive questions correctly in order to demonstrate mastery. Progress is displayed in the progress report on the right side of the Concept Builder. A star indicates a demonstration of mastery. A question with a red background indicates that the student has missed the question. And a question with a yellow background means that the student must get one more question from that Question Group correctly answered in order to obtain a star. When an activity is completed, the student will be awarded a Trophy. This Trophy is displayed on the Main Menu screen. These strategies make the Concept Builder an ideal addition to the 1:1 classroom and other settings in which computers are readily available. 

In order to complete the second and the third activities, a student must correctly answer each question for that activity. If a student's analysis is incorrect, then the student will have to correctly analyze the same or very similar question twice in order to successfully complete the activity. This approach provides the student extra practice on questions for which they exhibited difficulty. As a student progresses through an activity, a system of stars and other indicators are used to indicate progress on the activity. A star is an indicator of correctly analyzing the question. Once a star is earned, that question is removed from the que of questions to be analyzed. Each situation is color-coded with either a yellow or a red box. A red box indicates that the student has incorrectly analyzed the question and will have to correctly analyze it twice before earning a star. A yellow box is an indicator that the question must be correctly analyzed one time in order to earn a star. Once every question of a difficulty level has been analyzed, the student earns a Trophy which is displayed on the Main Menu. This system of stars and trophies allows a teacher to easily check-off student progress or offer credit for completing assigned difficulty levels.

The third activity - V-T Data - is quite different than most of our Concept Builder activities. This activity presents students with a table of data that has some empty cells. Students must complete the table. A health rating is used to determine the completion of the activity. There are four different tables. Students must complete a table with fewer than 20 misses in order to complete the activity. But after completing the third table, the student is automatically awarded the Trophy for the activity.

The most valuable (and most overlooked) aspect of this Concept Builder is the Help Me! feature. Each question group is accompanied by a Help page that discusses the specifics of the question. This Help feature transforms the activity from a question-answering activity into a concept-building activity. The student who takes the time to use the Help pages can be transformed from a guesser to a learner and from an unsure student to a confident student. The "meat and potatoes" of the Help pages are in the sections titled "How to Think About This Situation:" Students need to be encouraged by teachers to use the Help Me! button and to read this section of the page. A student that takes time to reflect upon how they are answering the question and how an expert would think about the situation can transform their naivete into expertise.