Chemistry for Teens: The Atomic Mass of Silver and Making Science Fun

Last week, my daughter came home from high school amazingly excited about her experience in chemistry class. The class had made soap bubbles filled with methane gas and then set handfuls of bubbles on fire IN THEIR HANDS.  Yes, this was actually a teacher approved activity.  You know why? Because their teacher understands that chemistry for teens has to be engaging and FUN if the kids are going to actually pay attention and learn.  With a growing need for students passionate about STEM programs, we need to focus more of our attention on making science fun again!

Chemistry for Teens: The Atomic Mass of Silver and Making Science Fun

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Making Chemistry for Teens FUN:

My husband and I both have college degrees in the science field.  We spent several years running Science Night at our children’s elementary school.  Every summer, I encouraged my children to explore science through nature, books, and hands-on kitchen science activities.  It is a subject I am passionate about and one that can lead to several great career opportunities.

If you hand a teenager a book and tell them to learn about science by reading facts, you are going to lose their attention quickly.  Make science fun and put those words into memorable actions. This will help them learn concepts faster and remember them for a longer period of time. There are a number of ways to expand on your educational material if you are focusing on chemistry for teens.  Here are a few products that will help make chemistry fun and encourage a love of STEM concepts in your teenagers.

  • Use a molecular model kit to discuss the concepts of atoms, bonds, and molecules.  This allows your teen to see a 3D version of chemical formulas.
  • Buy a crystal growing kit.  While younger kids may be fascinated with just watching crystals grow, there is some complex science behind this that teens can learn as well.
  • Buy a book with hands-on chemistry experiments.  There are so many hands on science experiments that will wow your teens!
  • Use a DNA kit to discuss heredity, extract DNA from fruit and explore the concept of genetics. is a great resource if you are looking for information or experiments in chemistry for teens. The below information will help teens learn atomic mass calculations, specifically the atomic mass of silver.  If you want to include a hands-on activity for this concept, consider purchasing liquid silver or clean tarnish off silver.


Chemistry for Teens: Atomic Mass of Silver

The goal of this science experiment is to learn about atomic mass, atomic number, relative atomic mass and how different isotopes of an element affect the relative atomic mass.

  • What is atomic mass? How does it differ from relative atomic mass?
  • How can atomic mass be calculated?
  • Do you know how atomic mass differs from atomic weight?
  • Is it possible for an element to have different atomic masses? Why?
  • What percent of uranium is radioactive?
  • Students often confuse atomic number, atomic mass, atomic weight and relative atomic mass. The following definitions may be helpful:

    Atomic number is the number of protons in an element. This number is always the same for every atom of a particular element; it is a fundamental property of the element.

    Atomic mass is the total mass of protons, electrons, and neutrons in an atom.Unlike atomic number, atomic mass is not a fundamental property of an element; rather, it is a fundamental property of a particular isotope.

    An isotope is a particular form of an element. While all isotopes have the same number of protons, the number of neutrons can vary. For example, hydrogen has three isotopes: protium (with 0 neutrons), deuterium (with 1 neutron) and tritium (with 3 neutrons).

    Atomic weight is the ratio of the average mass of atoms of a particular element to 1/12 the mass of an atom of carbon-12. While different samples of a particular element may have slightly different atomic weights, this number is sufficiently important that it appears on the periodic chart.

    Relative atomic mass is a synonym for atomic weight. It represents the average of the mass of all isotopes weighted by the abundance of each isotope.

This “paper-and-pen” experiment does not require setting up any special apparatus. All that is needed is a periodic table.

Relative Atomic Mass of Silver

The formula for relative atomic mass is the relative abundance over 100 divided by the isotope number. This can be expressed as:

(A/100 • a) + (B/100 • b) + (C/100 • c)…. = relative atomic mass

A, B, C stand for different relative abundances of isotope numbers a, b and c.

Silver has two isotopes, silver 107 and silver 109. The relative abundance of these is 51.84 % and 48.16 % respectively.

Calculate the relative atomic mass of silver.


Relative Atomic Mass of Uranium

Uranium has three isotopes: U 234, U235 and U238. The relative abundance of these is 0.01%, 0.71% and 99.27 % respectively. Use this information to calculate the relative atomic mass of uranium.


Relative Atomic Mass of Barium

There are seven different isotopes of barium. Doing on-line research, find out what these are and their relative abundance. Use this information to calculate the relative atomic mass of barium.

Terms/Concepts: Atomic number; Atomic mass; Atomic weight; Isotope; Relative atomic mass


Gonick, Larry and Craig Criddle. The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry. Collins Reference (2005)
Moore, John T. Chemistry for Dummies. For Dummies (2002).
Atomic Number and Mass
What are Atomic Number and Atomic Weight?


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About Diane

Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician with two teens, one husband and more pets than she will admit to. She has a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology but left her career in science to become a stay at home mom. Years of playing with Legos and coloring with crayons had her craving a more grown up purpose to her life and she began blogging full time. She currently deals with emotional tweens, suburban politics, and middle aged metabolism while sharing her opinions in an honest and down to earth fashion on her blog.

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