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Elements

Science >> Chemistry for Kids

An element is a pure substance that is made from a single type of atom. Elements are the building blocks for all the rest of the matter in the world. Examples of elements include iron, oxygen, hydrogen, gold, and helium.

Atomic Number

An important number in an element is the atomic number. This is the number of protons in each atom. Each element has a unique atomic number. Hydrogen is the first element and has one proton, so it has an atomic number of 1. Gold has 79 protons in each atom and has an atomic number of 79. Elements in their standard state also have the same number of electrons as protons.


Silicon (Atomic number 14) is an important element in electronics


Forms of an Element

Even though elements are all made from the same type of atoms, they can still come in different forms. Depending on their temperature they can be solid, liquid, or gas. They can also take different forms depending on how tightly the atoms are packed together. Scientists call these allotropes. One example of this is carbon. Depending on how carbon atoms fit together they can form diamond, coal, or graphite.

How many elements are there?

There are currently 118 known elements. Of these, only 94 are thought to naturally exist on Earth.

Families of Elements

Elements are sometimes grouped together because they have similar properties. Here a few of the types:

Noble Gases - Helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon, and radon are all noble gases. They are unique in that the outer shell of their atoms is full of electrons. This means they don't react much with other elements. They are often used in signs as they glow in bright colors when an electrical current is passed through them.

Alkali Metals - These elements have just 1 electron in the outer shell of their atom and are very reactive. Some examples are lithium, sodium, and potassium.

Other groups include transition metals, nonmetals, halogens, alkali earth metals, actinides, and lanthanides.

Periodic Table

An important way of learning and understanding elements for chemistry is the periodic table. You can learn more about this on our periodic table of elements page.


Periodic Table of Elements


Fun Facts about Elements

More on the elements and the Periodic Table

Periodic Table

Alkali Metals
Lithium
Sodium
Potassium

Alkaline Earth Metals
Beryllium
Magnesium
Calcium
Radium

Transition Metals
Scandium
Titanium
Vanadium
Chromium
Manganese
Iron
Cobalt
Nickel
Copper
Zinc
Silver
Platinum
Gold
Mercury
Post-transition Metals
Aluminum
Gallium
Tin
Lead

Metalloids
Boron
Silicon
Germanium
Arsenic

Nonmetals
Hydrogen
Carbon
Nitrogen
Oxygen
Phosphorus
Sulfur
Halogens
Fluorine
Chlorine
Iodine

Noble Gases
Helium
Neon
Argon

Lanthanides and Actinides
Uranium
Plutonium

More Chemistry Subjects

Matter
Atom
Molecules
Isotopes
Solids, Liquids, Gases
Melting and Boiling
Chemical Bonding
Chemical Reactions
Radioactivity and Radiation
Mixtures and Compounds
Naming Compounds
Mixtures
Separating Mixtures
Solutions
Acids and Bases
Crystals
Metals
Salts and Soaps
Water
Other
Glossary and Terms
Chemistry Lab Equipment
Organic Chemistry
Famous Chemists


Science >> Chemistry for Kids






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