Outer Electrons

Electrons in atoms can be found in orbitals. These orbitals are found in shells. Think about a jawbreaker. A jawbreaker has multiple layers all the way down to the center. Each layer can be thought of as a shell of electrons. The electrons that are in the outermost shell are most accessible to other molecules. The only flavor you taste on a brand new jawbreaker is the one that is on top, the outermost layer. It is the outermost electrons that are responsible for the catalytic nature of transition metals.

The jawbreaker model we have used to distinguish valence electrons is a good starting place for understanding the location of electrons within an atom, but a more complicated model that involves orbitals provides and even better understadning of electrons in atoms.

Picture of a Jawbreaker

Things to Think About