Very rarely do I find something so utterly and completely perfect for my students as Hog Hilton. You will not find this anywhere in the Chemistry with Confidence curriculum. I did not create it, but it is the best way to introduce electron configuration. Go to any search engine and type in Hog Hilton. You will easily be able to locate various different worksheets and versions of the activity. In my own classroom, I do this activity before ever teaching about electrons. Usually, it takes 15-20-minutes. After doing the activity, the students will remember the Hog Hilton rules which are essentially the same rules for electron configuration! So let me lay out how I run this activity.
First and foremost, I never say a word about electrons. The focus is helping students complete the activity and understand the rules for the hogs. I will make a comparison later when going into detail about the electron configuration rules: Aufbau, Hund’s rule, and Pauli Exclusion principle.
I begin by reading the Hog Hilton story to the class and reviewing as well as demonstrating the rules. We then (as a class) work one or two example problems together.
Students then get into groups of 2-4. I have several large posters containing the hotel structure (wonderfully provided by a training through the district I worked for). Each group has one of these posters and a baggie filled with pigs (laminated pictures of pigs). Students must fill the hotel poster with pigs for each day of the week and then record their results on the worksheet using arrows. Be sure to walk around and double check their work to make sure all students are following those Hog Hilton rules!
My only goal here is that students learn the rules of the Hog Hilton which we will later compare to the electron rules. This activity works! After doing the activity, I never again have to worry about students failing to follow electron rules. Students can look at a question on a test and pick the incorrect electron configuration. However, they will typically not be able to tell you exactly which rule was broken (ie. Hund, Pauli…etc). Not that I don’t teach the exact rules, it just doesn’t stick in student’s memories as well. Moral of the story… This helps students easily internalize and remember the spirit of the electron configuration rules. Do a little more practice with the name of the rules if your students need to remember that. For me, the actual names of the rules was something I focused more on in Pre-AP rather than level chemistry.
Hopefully this helps! This is my electron configuration teaching lifesaver…fun, engaging, and drives home an educational point = my idea of a perfect activity!
I definitely want to give credit where credit is due. I have seen one worksheet with credit given to a teacher and many many more with no credit given. All that to say, I am not totally sure who created this activity but take my word for it…it is the bomb ;)
Happy Teaching :)
-Founder of Chemistry with Confidence