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Periodic Table

Science >> Chemistry for Kids

The Periodic Table is a way of listing the elements. Elements are listed in the table by the structure of their atoms. This includes how many protons they have as well as how many electrons they have in their outer shell. From left to right and top to bottom, the elements are listed in the order of their atomic number, which is the number of protons in each atom.


Periodic Table of Elements
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Why is it called the Periodic Table?

It is called "periodic" because elements are lined up in cycles or periods. From left to right elements are lined up in rows based on their atomic number (the number of protons in their nucleus). Some columns are skipped in order for elements with the same number of valence electrons to line up on the same columns. When they are lined up this way, elements in the columns have similar properties.

Each horizontal row in the table is a period. There are seven (or eight) total periods. The first one is short and only has two elements, hydrogen and helium. The sixth period has 32 elements. In each period the left most element has 1 electron in its outer shell and the right most element has a full shell.

Groups

Groups are the columns of the periodic table. There are 18 columns or groups and different groups have different properties.

One example of a group is the noble or inert gases. These elements all line up in the eighteenth or last column of the periodic table. They all have a full outer shell of electrons, making them very stable (they tend not to react with other elements). Another example is the alkali metals which all align on the left-most column. They are all very similar in that they have only 1 electron in their outer shell and are very reactive. You can see all the groups in the table below.

This lining-up and grouping of similar elements helps chemists when working with elements. They can understand and predict how an element might react or behave in a certain situation.

Element Abbreviations

Each element has its own name and abbreviation in the periodic table. Some of the abbreviations are easy to remember, like H for hydrogen. Some are a bit harder like Fe for iron or Au for gold. For gold the "Au" comes from the Latin word for gold "aurum".

Who invented it?

The original periodic table was first proposed by Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869.

Fun facts about the Periodic Table

More on the elements and the Periodic Table

Elements


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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