The Electron Hotel: Electron Energy Levels

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for Understanding Atomic Structures

The Electron Hotel


Use This Assignment With My Students

(This will start a 2-Week Free Trial - No Credit Card Needed)

Activity Overview

Perhaps the most difficult part of atomic structure to grasp is the current understanding of how electrons are arranged outside the nucleus. Students generally come to chemistry comfortable with the idea of electrons orbiting the nucleus like planets around a sun. Though this idea has been known to be incorrect for nearly 100 years, it persists due to the ease at which people can relate to it. It's helpful to use an analogy to help students understand that electrons move about in three-dimensional space, arranged by increasing potential energy and described by clouds of probability.

In this activity, students will create a visual representation of electron energy levels. The example provided above uses the analogy of a hotel with multiple floors. Students can work with this analogy, or come up with their own. This is a great way to shift students away from the imperfect solar system model into something complicated but more accurate.

Electrons with the least potential energy are found near the nucleus. As the distance between the nucleus and the electrons increases, the potential energy also increases. Where students might be tempted to talk about “rings” of electrons, electrons are actually arranged into energy levels and sublevels. The sublevels are sets of orbitals, clouds of space that predict the 90% chance of locating the electron. These probability clouds are determined mathematically.

Though not a perfect analogy, this can be likened to an electron hotel. The floors of the hotel would represent energy levels, each one farther away from the ground floor, or nucleus. Each floor would have wings that are sublevels and within the wings are rooms, or orbitals. A room may contain 0, 1, or 2 electrons. The hotel would populate the rooms, wings, and floors in order of increasing energy, just as the Aufbau Principle describes the build-up of electrons according to energy.

Use This Assignment With My Students

(This will start a 2-Week Free Trial - No Credit Card Needed)

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Create a visual representation of electron energy levels using a hotel analogy. Each floor is an energy level, with the ground floor being the nucleus.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Label the rows with 1st Energy Level through 4th Energy Level.
  3. Label the columns "S Orbital", "P Orbital", "D Orbital", and "F Orbital".
  4. Use the metaphor of the hotel to describe how electrons are sorted by energy level.
  5. Create illustrations to back up your explanations using different scenes, items, and characters.
  6. Save and submit your storyboard.
1x3 Grid Template


Use This Assignment With My Students

(This will start a 2-Week Free Trial - No Credit Card Needed)

More Storyboard That Activities for

Understanding Atomic Structures

Use This Assignment With My Students

(This will start a 2-Week Free Trial - No Credit Card Needed)


Help Share Storyboard That!

Looking for More?

Check out the rest of our Lesson Plans!

View All Teacher Resources

Our Posters on ZazzleOur Lessons on Teachers Pay Teachers

Clever Logo Google Classroom Logo Student Privacy Pledge signatory
Start My Free Trial
Explore Our Articles and Examples

Business Resources

All Business ArticlesBusiness Templates

Film Resources

Film ResourcesVideo Marketing

Illustrated Guides

Try Our Other Websites!

Photos for Class   •   Quick Rubric   •   abcBABYart   •   Storyboard That's TpT Store