Trends related to placement of elements on the periodic table are often taught using diagrams in a textbook. Students often memorize trends, but to get a true grasp of their meaning and what causes certain patterns is best understood when students create their own models and discuss the patterns with others.
This five puzzle mystery aligns with my chemistry curriculum after instruction on the properties of elements and electron configurations. I use this mystery as a review to prepare for assessments over the properties of elements, symbols on the periodic table and the difference between groups and periods. Also incorporated within the puzzles are basic trends such as the number of subatomic particles, mass number, melting point, and other characteristics of specific elements.
Are kids learning? Given the time it takes to implement and grade the activity, do I get a lot of "educational moments" out of it? Does it fit into the culture of the classroom? Is there a great deal of "conceptually rich" material in the activity that students can build on? I believe that two activities I tried this week fit the bill.
During our “Periodic Table and Periodicity" unit, we take about 3 days to learn the content and another 3-4 days to practice the content (more for Chemistry 1, less for Honors). One way that I have my students review the content is by playing a board game that I recreated from an NSTA conference a few years ago.
Science is creative; it requires new ideas, new patterns, and new solutions to old problems. A deep understanding of the periodic table is the most critical knowledge in chemistry. I want my students to experience the table and conceptualize its trends in a deeper way.
In this age of scientific inquiry, molecular modeling, digital classrooms, and differentiation, I felt downright guilty about any teacher-centered time. My classroom is flipped after all. I’m not supposed to be lecturing, right?
Students will proceed through a pre-lab engagement activity, organize element cards based on similarities & trends, discuss trends with the class and then produce a periodic table that includes the trends discussed within the lab.
Students choose a topic and select items to incorporate into a periodic table. Students explore trends related to their own topic and relate to the trends on the actual Periodic Table of Elements.