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and the Periodic Table
Using the Resource Room to Support Content
Areas: Elements and the Periodic Table
If you've got a student in third grade or higher, she can
learn to work with the symbols of chemistry. By developing
this background knowledge, students can enter a science class
with an established handle on the symbols that they're going
to be expected to use. It can also be a boost to the ego to
be working on chemistry instead of a remedial subject. Don't
worry about atomic weight, number, etc unless and until there's
a good reason to do so.
Physical Science often presents the language of chemistry
too quickly. Students are expected to instantly assimilate
the rules for understanding chemical formulae. Break this
process down and use analogies to make the steps comprehensible
and even entertaining. Don't move on to the next step until
the first process is easy and automatic.
Note that these are "worksheet" style activities. There are
wonderful hands-on activities (building molecules with gumdrops
and toothpicks, for starters) that help make science *fun*
as well as fascinating.
Start with getting to know elements
Spend some time getting familiar with the periodic table.
Get to know major elements. People should know that Carbon
is an element, that it's in lots of really important molecules
as simple as C02 ... or in many much bigger molecules
that are called "organic." Be sure to clarify the difference
between organic chemicals and organic vegetables.
Since your goal is to become familiar with the symbolism
and language, you can choose whether or not to include the
abstract concept of "elements" as the building blocks of matter.
A typical daily warm-up exercise can be:
What are these elements? Use the periodic table to find their
Because we have more than 26 elements, we'd run out of letters.
Some elements have to have two letters -- so we use a lower
case letter for those extra letters.
What are these elements?
What are elements?
Encourage students to know at least 10 common elements, including
at least 3 that are two-letter elements and 3 with common
names that don't begin with their element symbol (e.g., Au
for gold -- use the mnemonic "Ey! You! Bring the Gold over
Teach students about subscripts ("sub" means "below) --
and that these little numbers tell you how many of the element
just behind it you have.
How many of each atom are in these molecules?
How many atoms?
Draw the molecules
Of course, you could build these, too.
Can you draw these molecules? Here's an example:
Compounds can be understood through analogies. If you buy
a frozen dinner, you get all the parts to the frozen dinner:
that slab of chicken, the pile of veggies and the potatoes.
If you get the dinner, you get the combination.
University Faculty of Education has online resources for
teaching science including Balancing
Equations: the Car Metaphor. It suggests:
Use a car as an analogy for a molecule; for instance, say
that you have a Porsche 911 Turbo and ask them how many tires
(T), doors (D), and engines (E) they have. Then write on the
Ask them if the car would be the same if you changed the number
of tires, doors, and engines. Note that if there is no number,
then there's one of those things there. (If there weren't
any, you wouldn't write it at all.)
Then state that you can change the number of cars by doing
Have students draw their own analogues -- what would be the
formula for a tractor trailer? Could they draw a T3E?
Apply this system to these compounds.
What elements are in these compounds? How many of each?
2 oxygen atoms
one carbon atom
2 oxygen atoms
Draw "C02" like this
(It's up to you whether you teach students patterns of atom
placement in molecules.)
Draw 3C02 as three separate CO2 molecules:
O------C------O O------C------O O------C------O
Draw FeO2, the chemical formula for iron oxide
or rust, like this:
Now you draw 3FeO2 :
Other interesting websites
Periodic Table http://www.genesismission.org/educate/scimodule/cosmic/ptable.html
(NASA) Create your own model of the periodic table of elements
by reading short descriptions of elements and putting them
on the periodic chart yourself, and grouping elements with
similar properties. Modules for teaching at either middle
school or high school levels are available here with plans
for using with or without computers. Teachers guides for a
single lesson or an entire module are available online.
-- this site by Dr. Mark J. Winter at the University of Sheffield
includes a printable periodic table of elements, and a wonderfully
coherent and comprehensive database of information about each
element; click on it and you're guided to the information.
-- From Jefferson Lab, includes "It's Elemental" - Element
Flash Cards. You can limit them to the first 36 elements;
you'll be given the symbol and asked for the name (or vice
versa). INformation about each element is available with a
mouse click. There are also concentration games and cloze
exercises with reading passages about science topics.
- Chemistry teacher's comprehensive website. This includes
Tables, with links to over a hundred versions of the periodic
table of elements available online.
Mrs. Gibson's Periodic Table ADventure website!http://web.buddyproject.org/web017/web017/
Mrs. Gibson's Periodic Table ADventure website! This website
was created in accordance with the 8th grade chemistry curriculum
at Princeton Community Middle School in Princeton, Indiana.
This goal of this website is to introduce and explore basic
chemistry concepts and to practice these concepts using engaging
web-based research and activities. In the culminating activity,
students will perform a WebQuest which requires them to research
an element using the internet. Once students have researched
their elements, students will develop and perform commercials
for their elements.
has a periodic table java applet where students can click
on an element to get its name and information.
Substances this is a good, simple activity in which students
explore characteristics and properties of two similar substances
(baking soda and cornstarch).
-- this activity outlines getting students familiar with elements,
so that they know a little something about chlorine and carbon
Molecules -- a "primary" level activity for building molecules
with toothpicks and gumdrops. Hmmm.... be sure the students
know they really *shouldn't* eat ammonia!
Cooperation -- several lessons for understanding compounds