How to Make Bohr Diagrams

Written by jared beck
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How to Make Bohr Diagrams
This 3D atomic representation shows the basic idea of the two-dimensional Bohr diagram. (black_toy image by Sergey Tokarev from

The Bohr diagram, conceived by Danish physicist Niels Bohr in 1913, is a simplified model of the atom used to instruct students about how electrons are organised into energy levels. It is a classic diagram that features a nucleus in the middle and concentric circles drawn around it, like planets orbiting around the Sun. These diagrams are popular among chemistry teachers because they are easily drawn and provide a basic understanding of an atom's structure.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Periodic Table

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  1. 1

    Find the element you want to diagram on the periodic table. Write down its atomic number and mass number: The atomic number represents the number of electrons in the element, which is vital information for the Bohr diagram.

  2. 2

    Determine which period the element is in. "Periods" constitute rows on the periodic table and inform how many energy levels the atom will have: The first period (of hydrogen and helium) has one energy level, the second period has two energy levels, the third has three.

  3. 3

    Draw a circle in the middle of a piece of paper to represent the nucleus. Write the element name, the number of protons and the number of neutrons inside the nucleus.

  4. 4

    Draw circle(s) around the nucleus representing the energy levels. Draw the correct number of energy levels pertaining the element sketched.

  5. 5

    Draw electrons as dots on the energy level rings. The first level can only hold two electrons; the second level can only hold eight; the third holds 18; the fourth holds 32; the fifth holds 50; and the sixth holds 72. While this totals 182, the largest element, Ununoctium (Uuo), only has 118 electrons; thus, the sixth ring is used sparingly.

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