In July of 2016 we learned the names of the four new elements that were confirmed in January; Nihonium (Nh), moscovium (Mc), tennessine (Ts) and oganesson (Og). Although the newest superheavy elements complete the seventh period of the Periodic Table, curiosity has been reignited in our classrooms as students ask, what’s next?
Recently Chemistry World has released articles that explain how the four elements were developed and the future of confirming new elements. “Confirmation of four new elements completes seventh row of periodic table”, published in January introduces the new elements as well as the researchers involved in the discoveries. Published weeks later “Beyond element 118: the next row of the periodic table” reflects on the possibilities of confirming elements that would occupy the eighth period and the technology requirements needed in order to occur. The final two articles “The element makers” and “Explainer: superheavy elements” are focused on the discussion with the scientists of the Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who study the superheavy metals. In addition the latter two articles include video clips in which the scientists explain the process of developing superheavy elements.
Although the reading level may be advanced for some high school students, these articles can be introduced in the classroom as supplemental resources for a periodicity unit. I plan on using these articles for the previously mentioned unit as well as a connection component back to our unit about nuclear reactions. If you use these articles in your classroom please provide feedback on how they were used and the feedback from the students.