What Does the Periodic Table Contain?

Have you ever wondered about the composition of the world? Take a look around you. What creates flowers? How about clouds? What materials are used to make the fork you eat with? Or the food on your plate?

Thanks to advancements in chemistry, we now have the ability to understand the makeup of various substances. Many years ago, ancient civilizations had their own theories about the components of the universe.

Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that the world consisted of four elements: air, fire, water, and earth. Over time, additional elements were recognized. It was discovered that objects in the universe were also comprised of wood, ether, and metal.

Eventually, people began to examine things more closely. Today, we know that everything in the world is composed of atoms. Furthermore, these atoms can be categorized into different types, known as elements. Scientists have identified a total of 118 elements. Some of these elements may sound familiar to you! Have you ever heard of oxygen, helium, or carbon? These are all examples of elements.

We have come a long way from the original four elements! How do scientists manage to keep track of all these elements? A Russian chemist named Dmitri Mendeleev devised a system to organize the elements, which is now known as the periodic table.

When Mendeleev first created the periodic table in 1869, it consisted of 64 elements. As new elements were discovered and named, they were added to the table. Today, the elements on the periodic table are arranged based on their atomic number, which represents the number of protons in an atom of each element. The atomic numbers start from “1” for Helium and go all the way up to “118” for Oganesson.

Each element is also assigned its own symbol. In most cases, the symbol corresponds to the element’s name. For instance, “O” represents Oxygen, and “N” represents Nitrogen. However, there are some cases where the symbols are not as straightforward. For example, Potassium is represented by the symbol “K,” and Iron is represented by “Fe.” Can you guess which element is represented by the symbol “Au”? It’s gold!

The periodic table provides a wealth of information about the elements. By examining an element’s location on the table, one can learn about the structure of its atom. Additionally, the elements are grouped together based on their chemical properties, which aids scientists in distinguishing between different types of metals and gases.

Is the periodic table complete as of today? Not necessarily! Oganesson was added to the table in 2006, and any new elements that are discovered will be included as well. Could you be the one to discover the next element? What would you name it?

Give It a Try

Are you ready to delve deeper into the periodic table? Make sure to explore the following activities with a friend or family member:

Exploring the Periodic Table of Elements

If you want to familiarize yourself with the periodic table of elements, there’s no better way than to go online and check out this interactive version. By simply hovering over an element’s symbol, you can discover more detailed information about it. Take the opportunity to learn about at least three unfamiliar elements and then write a paragraph describing them for a friend or family member.

As you delve deeper into the world of elements, it’s easy to get confused. Have you ever wondered what these elements actually look like? Well, now you can find out by exploring the captivating Pictorial Periodic Table of Elements. You’ll be able to see pictures of the different elements and compare them to your expectations. Prepare to be surprised!

Imagine that one day you become a scientist and have the chance to discover a new element. What would you name it? Would you consider naming it after yourself or would you choose a different criterion? Ponder on this question and create a list of potential names for a future element. Enjoy the process and share your ideas with a friend or family member.

Additional Sources for Wondering Minds

  • http://periodic.lanl.gov/about.shtml (accessed 11 June 2019)
  • http://periodic.lanl.gov/metal.shtml (accessed 11 June 2019)
  • http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-periodic-table-of-the-elements.htm (accessed 11 June 2019)
  • http://www.livescience.com/25300-periodic-table.html (accessed 11 June 2019)
  • http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2016/01/new-elements-periodic-table-seventh-row-iupac (accessed 11 June 2019)
  • http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/webprojects2002/tubb/elements.htm (accessed 11 June 2019)


1. What is the periodic table?

The periodic table is a tabular arrangement of chemical elements, organized based on their atomic number, electron configuration, and recurring chemical properties. It provides a systematic way to classify and organize the elements, making it easier to understand their relationships and characteristics.

2. How many elements are on the periodic table?

Currently, there are 118 known elements on the periodic table. These elements range from hydrogen (atomic number 1) to oganesson (atomic number 118). Each element has its own unique properties and is represented by a symbol, such as H for hydrogen or O for oxygen.

3. What information can we find on the periodic table?

The periodic table provides various information about each element. It includes the element’s symbol, atomic number, atomic weight, electron configuration, and the group and period in which the element belongs. Additionally, the table also displays the elements’ physical properties, such as melting point, boiling point, and density.

4. How is the periodic table organized?

The periodic table is organized in rows called periods and columns called groups. Elements in the same group share similar chemical properties, while elements in the same period have the same number of electron shells. The table is divided into several blocks, including the s-block, p-block, d-block, and f-block, based on the types of orbitals being filled with electrons.

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