Atom are made of even smaller parts: a central nucleus made of protons and neutrons. Electrons orbit in spheres around the atom.

Before you start, take a look at carbon on the periodic table. It has an atomic number of 6. That means a carbon atom has 6 protons, 6 neutrons, and 6 electrons. Since carbon is in the second row (or second period), it has 2 electron orbits.
Use the clay to make your protons and neutrons in the nucleus. The nucleus should be about the size of a large gumball. (Use two different colors of clay.) After you make the nucleus, put it aside for now.
 Now make the orbits. Use a foot long piece of wire or one pipe cleaner to make the first orbit. Bend the wire or pipe cleaners into elliptical shapes and twist the ends together.
 Make the rest of the orbits for the element that you chose. The orbits should increase in size each time one is added. For the second orbit, use a longer piece of wire, or if you are using pipe cleaners, twist the ends of two pipe cleaners together to make one long one.
 Now sculpt and attach the electrons for your model by using a different color clay from the protons and neutrons of the nucleus. Try to make your electrons the same size. Remember, a carbon atom has 6 electrons, 2 in the inner orbit, 4 in the outer orbit.
Cut a five-inch piece of wire and stick it into the nucleus.
Then attach the wire to the first orbit of the atom, making sure that the nucleus hangs in the center.
Now cut another five-inch piece of wire or pipe cleaner and attach the inner orbit to the second orbit so that the hoops are connected. Repeat this step if there are more than two orbits in your model.
When you're done, hang your model with string, pipe cleaner, or wire. When friends ask, tell them what element it is, like, "Oh, that's just carbon!"

Make another mobile! Check out the Periodic Table and choose another element. Write down the name of your element and the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Next, determine how many orbits the atom has. (Hint: The number of orbits equals the period number.) Finally, do some research to find out how many electrons are in each orbit. What did you discover?

 Your model shows the basic structure of the atom you chose. But remember that in a real atom, the electrons orbit in spherical, ellipsoidal, butterfly-like, and other, shapes around the nucleus. Also, the protons and neutrons in an actual atom are about 2000 times more massive than the electrons. And finally, an atom's electron orbits have a radius thousands of times greater than the nucleus. That would be almost impossible to show in a model!