Atoms

by John Riggio

This song is available as a single.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the 1913 publication of Niels Bohr's model of the atom, we present "Atoms." While we consider atoms to be the building blocks of all matter, the name itself is a bit of a misnomer, because "atom" in the Greek means "indivisible," which we now know is not an accurate descriptor. Bohr's own model shows a nucleus and electrons which comprise the atom. Particle accelerators (colliders) can smash atoms into their parts, and we have discovered subatomic particles. Still, an atom is the smallest unit that fully exhibits the properties of a given element, so it's a good place to start.

This song has a synthy texture to it, which is fitting for the subject matter. As you listen to the tracks, can't you just see the electrons flying around the nucleus? There is an electric guitar melody (for part 1), to help keep your singers on track.

While we've tried to keep the rhythms simple, the art of describing scientific things is sometimes best served by changing the rhythms between the verses, so be sure to pay attention to where the rests and syllables fall in each verse. Fortunately, the chorus is the same each time.

The optional part 2 lists several elementary particles, some of which exist in atoms and matter, and some of which have no mass, but are considered force carriers. Photons, for instance, have no mass, but they are considered subatomic particles, so we thought it would be fun to include them.

Feeling a bit out of your comfort zone? Perhaps now is the time to get your science teacher involved. This song is not meant to be an exhaustive look at particle physics, but it points to the wonder of it all, and makes a lovely cross curricular tune. How small do the particles get? Perhaps in several years we'll find out what quarks are made of.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.