Protons, Neutrons, and Electrons

Everything is made up of atoms. Atoms are made up of protons, electrons, and neutrons. The nucleus of the atom contains neutrons which have a neutral charge and protons which have a positive charge. Electrons orbit the nucleus and have a negative charge.

If you have the same amount of protons as electrons, you’d have a neutral charge. If the atom loses an electron, you’d have a positive charge. If the atom has more electrons, the atom would be negatively charged. Electrons can jump from one negatively charged object to a positively charged one and will balance the charge. The energy used when the electrons move is the voltage.

Valence electrons are responsible for the electrical conductivity of an element. Valence electrons are the electrons in the outermost shell of the atom which can be transferred to other atoms.

Conductors have few valence electrons. They’re willing to give them up easily. They’re like the terrible parents of atoms. They’re good conductors. Copper, gold, and silver are examples.

Insulators have outer electrons held very tight. They’re like the protective parents of atoms. They don’t allow for good electrical flow. Glass and plastic are examples.

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