Does anyone have any ideas as to how I would go about building a 3 dimensional model?The Element is iron. It is for my daughter's science class (8th grade).
The easy way out would be to Google Molecule Model Kit, however these are pretty easy to create at home.
Iron (Fe) has 28 electrons and 30 neutrons. It isn't difficult to build this part of the model. The difficult part is the electrons. The energy shells which hold the electrons have 2 electrons in the first level,8 in the second,14 in the third, and 2 in the last. If I were building a model I would use a glue gun with Styrofoam balls, or craft balls made of cotton can be sown together. You can buy the small Styrofoam balls, or the fuzzy cotton balls in packages at any craft store. The energy shells are a little harder. Cut some flexible wire into several different lengths and slide the balls onto the wire. Make the first and shortest wire have two balls, the next 8, the next 14, and then the last one 2. You will need extra lengths of wire to connect the rings to the "nucleus." You can find pictures of these models on the Internet. You can also buy kits to build these models if you have enough time to have them mailed. I would suggest that you let your daughter build this with your supervision. She will learn about the element, and she will learn problem solving skills. Hope this helps.
You could also use different colored gumdrops for the electrons, protons, and neutrons (as gumdrops are popular for this season). They are very good at sticking to wires.
Iron is a bit complicated because it has so many electrons around it. However, I would purchase some wire that is firm but fairly easy to cut, wire cutters, tiny marshmallows, and use a larger marshmallow or a small ball or Styrofoam ball that can be poked by tooth picks without breaking them, and a box of tooth picks and tape.
Begin by cutting the wire at the following lengths, 5 inches, 6 1/2 inches, 7 inches, and 8 1/2 inches.
Shape each wire into individual circles and leave each one separately so that the wire will remain in a circle but open to allow for the marshmallows to be stuck on it.
Take out 16 tiny marshmallows and tooth picks.
Place the ball or large marshmallow in on the table.
Place the circles over it. Nest them one on the other. It should look like a ball in the center with circles drawn around it.
Insert the wire closest to the ball into 2 marshmallows.
Move the marshmallows to opposite sides, half way around the circle. Close off the circle with tape. Using tooth picks insert one into each of the marshmallows and then connect each one into the ball or large marshmallow.
Take the second wire and put 8 marshmallows on it.
Line up two marshmallows with the original two on the first ring. Attach them to the other ring by joining them with toothpicks. Make sure that 3 marshmallows are on one side of the main 2 marshmallows and three are on the other side of the two marshmallows. Again close off the wire.
Get the next wire and this time put 14 marshmallows on it. Divide them in half. One side will have six and the other side will have six. The main two will be placed at the half way point and connect by 2 toothpicks in line with the other marshmallows on the previous wire.
The last layer of wire only has 2 marshmallows. They are stuck onto the wire and moved around so that the two line up with the main two on the other wire. They are again connected by toothpicks.
The element iron has 16 electrons that float around its nucleus.
A good picture of the element can be found on http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Electron_shell_026_iron.png