Tuesday, November 11, 2008 3:01 PM
The purpose of this activity is arrange elements into a logical sequence that
exhibits periodic trends that are based on chemical and physical properties
of the elements.
Dimitri Mendeleev published a periodic table of the known elements in 1869.
He organized the elements according to a number of chemical and physical properties
into rows and columns where the elements in each column had similar chemical
properties, and showed a progression in physical properties. His periodic table
showed great similarity to the periodic table we use today.
Assemble the following tools prior to starting the activity:
- page with 20 element cards
- 2 pieces of graph paper
- 2 pieces of blank paper
- glue stick (or tape)
- colored pencils or pens
Safety and Waste Management
A large surface area is best for this activity, so it is convenient to work
on the laboratory benches. Be certain to clean your workspace carefully, before
starting. Safety eyewear is not required for this activity. Scissors can cut
skin as well as paper, so be careful.
Clean up all scraps of paper, and return all tools and materials to their assigned
Patterns in the Properties of Elements
- Examine the page containing 20 element data cards. Each card lists some
chemical and physical properties of an element.
- Carefully cut out each card.
- Arrange the cards in order of atomic weight.
- Try sorting the cards into several different groups. Each group should include
elements with similar chemical or physical properties. You may need to try
several different sorting methods before you find one that makes sense to
- Examine the cards in your groups for any patterns. Arrange the cards within
each group in a logical sequence. This may also require several different
arrangements until you find one that makes sense.
- Take a look at how the chemical and physical properties differ from group
to group. Use these differences to arrange the groups into a logical sequence.
- Select the most reasonable and useful patterns within and among the groups
to arrange the cards into a table. Your result should contain rows and columns
where each column contains one of your groups of cards, and the progression
of chemical properties across each row makes logical sense. When you are satisfied
with your arrangement, glue or tape the cards to a sheet of paper to preserve
- Once the cards are fixed in place, number each element from 1 to 20 starting
with the lowest mass element, then working across the first row, then wrap
around to the second row, etc.
Trends in Chemical Properties
- Entitle one of the sheets of graph paper, "Trends in Chemical Properties."
- Label the x-axis "Atomic Number of E." Scale your labels
to the number of elements you need to display.
- Label the y-axis "Oxygen Atoms per Atom of E." Scale
the axis to accommodate the range of values you will have to display.
- Create a bar graph by plotting the oxide data from the elements according
to the atomic number order you established after fixing the cards to the paper.
Trends in Physical Properties
- Entitle the other sheet of graph paper, "Trends in Physical Properties."
- Label the x-axis "Atomic Number." Scale your labels to
the number of elements you need to display.
- Label the y-axis "Boiling Point (K)." Scale the axis
to accommodate the range of temperature you will have to display, however,
exclude element 6 as the boiling point of this element is substantially greater
than the rest of the elements.
- Create a bar graph using the boiling point data from the element cards.
- Does either of your bar graphs reveal a repeating, or cyclic, pattern? Describe
any patterns you observe.
- Are these graphs consistent with the patterns you found while grouping the
- Based on the two graphs you created, why is the chemist's organization of
the elements called the periodic table?
- Where are the elements with the highest oxide numbers located on the periodic
- Where are the elements with the highest boiling point located on the periodic
- Explain any trends you noticed in Q4 and Q5.
- Predict which elements should have the lowest boiling point: Se, Br, or
Kr. Use evidence from your graphs to explain how you decided.
- Using your graphs, predict the pattern in boiling points and oxide numbers
for elements 31 through 36.
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Newton South High School, Newton Centre, MA 02459