Atoms and Chemical Elements

Back to Chemistry Grade 9/10

This video is a basic chemistry video that covers the concepts below. It is aimed to meet the GCSE (high school grade 9/10) requirements in Unit 1 Chemistry and Science A Unit 2.

Check out the bottom of this page for associated resources.

What are atoms?

Everything around you is made up of something, a substance. For example, the table you're sitting at may be made of wood or metal or glass. The floor under your feet may be made of concrete, dirt, grass, wood, tiles or carpet - to name a few substances. When you break these substances down, you'll find that they're made of smaller particles, known as atoms. Everything around us is made of atoms; they're like building blocks, or the ingredients for a recipe.

How big are atoms?

Atoms are really, really small. So small that you can't see them - so small in fact that there are over a million atoms in a single dot no larger than this full stop -->.<--

What are elements?

A substance that is made up of only one type of atom is called an element. There are over 100 different elements. Atoms of each element are represented by using a chemical symbol. For example, C represents carbon atoms, O represents oxygen atoms, and Al represents aluminium atoms. Sometimes we refer to elements as chemicals or chemical elements - they're all the same thing.

What are compounds?

The things around us can be made up atoms from single elements or from combining elements in different ways. For example diamonds are made of carbon atoms, whereas rubies are made of aluminium and oxygen. When atoms from two or more elements are combined together, we call the resultant material a compound.

Hint: You may find it helpful to remember that compound and combination start with the same three letters.

Make notes

Want to make notes as you follow along? Click on this image to download the document:

If you'd like a document of chemical element symbols with their names, sorted by atomic number. Click on this image to download the document: