January 31, 2019

International Year of the Periodic Table – Science in Action at Nobel Algarve

Students in the National and International sections of Nobel International School Algarve came together in their science lessons this week to produce a Human Periodic Table, to mark the 150th anniversary of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements. The table, as we know it today, was designed by the Russian scientist Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev.

Science teacher Rute Oliviera said: “The periodic table is not just a typical wall decoration in science classrooms – it is an exceptional tool for scientists to understand, and even predict, the properties of all the elements. This announcement by the United Nations of the International Year of the Periodic Table will help to raise the profile of how chemistry can provide solutions to global challenges in agriculture, education, energy and health.  We are always looking for ways to bring our national and international students together and we thought this would be fantastic for our middle school classes. Not only did they get to mix with their friends but the exercise brought the table to life and brought their attention to the importance of chemistry in our lives. We hope that this stokes their curiosity for science.”

Medeleev (1834 – 1907) created his early periodic table in 1869. He took the 63 known elements and arranged them into a table, mainly by their atomic mass. Although he wasn´t the first to do this, his interpretation involved a leap of ingenuity, int hat he put those with similar properties below each other into groups and left gaps for new elements to be slotted in.

Taken from Helen Briggs, BBC…

Dr Peter Wothers of the University of Cambridge told the BBC, “People had been doing that for some time – but finally there was some natural basis – or some law – that meant they needed to be arranged in some way.”

There are now more than 100 elements laid out in order of increasing atomic number. There are repeating patterns in the properties of the elements, which give the periodic table its name. Elements with similar properties are arranged to form columns (groups), of which there are now seven.  “The periodic table is now a thing of both beauty and practical use, ” says Dr Wothers. “You can understand certain things just by considering the place of an element in this table, or in this arrangement, that´s why it´s so useful to chemists.”

This year, which has been marked by the United Nations as the International Year of the Periodic Table, may mark the most beautiful form of the table. Scientists are currently working on synthesising heavier elements, and, if they manage the task, the table will change again. “As soon as just one more row is discovered, then we will have to start a row – the eighth period. And then it will lose some of its beauty, because the eighth period will never be completed I think it´s fair to say.”