# Problems In High School Chemistry/Inchem/Atoms

How to break down an element

Have you ever wondered how to find how many electrons, protons, neutrons, and the atomic mass of an element? To find these things out about an element you need to know the basics of what the element is made of. An element is made from atoms, atoms are small building blocks that are in anything you breathe, feel or touch that’s matter. Atoms consist of protons, neutrons and electrons.

Now that you understand the basics of atoms You can now begin two determine the basics of an element. The first element that we will be breaking down is Ne which is NEON. A basic table to breakdown and element will look something like this. The first step in breaking down an element is to put the symbol of the element that you are given in the symbol column. Once you put the symbol down you can now put the elements name in the element column, in this case it would be NEON. Now comes the more challenging part, for all elements the number of electrons and protons will be the same. To find the number of electrons and protons you simply look at the number on the top left corner of the element on the periodic table. While the number is not always on the top left, it will likely be there.

In this case it is 20 - 10. The next step is to find the atomic mass. That can also be found on the element box either on the bottom or on the top right corner. The atomic mass for neon is 20. Now to find the neutrons, to find the number of neutrons that an element has, you must subtract the number of protons from the atomic mass. In this case it would be 20 which is the rounded value minus 10 which equals 10.

Symbol Element # electrons # protons # neutrons atomic mass
Ne Neon 10 10 10 20

Congratulations you have successfully broken down an element. Now let's try one that's a little bit harder. All the same steps apply no matter what the element is. The second element that we will be breaking down is Americium / Am.

Symbol Element # electrons # protons # neutrons atomic mass
Am Americium 95 95 148 243