One thing about being a chemistry teacher is that you get to look at the periodic table every day (well unless you have the misfortune to have to move about and end up teaching in a biology or physics lab…) . Sometimes I wonder is this why I’m so passionate about the periodic table. Most chemists have a copy tucked away somewhere, usually at the front or back of a reference book, but for a chemistry teacher it’s the beating heart of our classroom. As I say probably at least once a day it’s the Lego of the world, our own set of building blocks. My classroom copy is from 1987 and believe me that doesn’t annoy me at all, in fact I love the fact that some of the transuranics have yet to be named. They appear as symbols Unq (104) Unp (105) and Unh (106). IUPAC, the organisation in charge of naming, used these as temporary names until suitable names were found (found this site that explains the naming http://www.periodni.com/naming_of_new_elements.html ). Therein lies just some of the many dramas hidden behind the symbols. I love the fact that after the Cold War the Americans and Russians divided out the naming those elements between themselves – can you work out who got what!
So I thought I would leave you with a few different periodic tables to ponder over, first up is one that appeared on Twitter recently by @JamieBGall showing the different countries of discovery for each element.
Next up, here’s one I made earlier – quite literally! During the week before Christmas 2013 I embarked on an ambitious project with my pupils to make a Hama bead periodic table. It was my own Field of Dreams moment – if you build it they will come! A quick trip to Ikea, a handful of enthusiastic pupils, a dedicated technician and 33,000 beads later I don’t think we did too badly.
And finally – ever wondered what to buy your chemistry teacher for Christmas ? Well this is it – it’s a real periodic table (well coffee table) with samples of many of the elements. Definitely my first purchase when I win the lottery.