Atoms and nuclei > models of atom

Rutherford’s scattering experiment was an ingenious piece of design and interpretation. Whilst it is not possible to reproduce the experiment in a school laboratory, it is well worth demonstrating how it was carried out using photographs, pictures and analogies.

This demonstration forms a part of the discussion about the scattering experiment performed by Geiger and Marsden for Rutherford. It uses the repulsive forces between magnets to represent the forces between nuclei and alpha particles. A swinging magnet models how an alpha particle is deflected by the repulsive force of the nucleus. 
 
Rutherford himself used this model in explanations and lectures with obvious delight. 

This is another model for the scattering of alpha particles; this time using the electrostatic repulsion between the dome of a Van de Graaff generator and a table tennis ball.

This model of alpha particle scattering uses ball bearings to represent alpha particles and a plastic hill to represent the force from a nucleus. The deflections are very clear and this can lead to some useful discussions.