The word "atom" is derived from a Greek word for "uncuttable". Atoms are thought to be the smallest particle of a single element. There are smaller parts to an atom, but the makeup of an atom determines the properties of an element. It is pretty cool because how we mix up atoms up or together can make just about anything in the universe. You find three simple sub-atomic particles in each atom. In the center (nucleus) of each atom you will find neutrons and protons. Together they provide almost all of the mass for the element. Protons have a positive charge and neutrons have no charge. Spinning around the nucleus you will find electrons. They have a negative charge and provide very little mass to the overall element.
We first help students identify the basic parts of the atom and then work on how electron configuration affects the chemical nature of substances.