Post Tagged with: "Periodic Table"

The Underground Map of the Elements

My son loves trains. So I came up with a train related twist to an inspection of the periodic table. We sat and cut up a copy of the table and then rearranged each element as a ‘station’ on an underground rail system. Each line represents a characteristic shared by the elements on that line. map 1.4

After (quite) a few drafts, and more time than I care to admit, we ended up with this.

It was constructed with the help of Metro Map Creator (no way I could have done it without this neat web app). If anyone fancies building some more lines I’ll happily send you the saved file (share using a creative commons attribution, non-commercial, share a like license) .

Let me know if you spot any errors.


Thanks to Shaun, Max, IanMitch, YulLabrat and Stu (alway handy to have a Nature Chemistry editor check your work)  for spotting some mistakes. All corrected now.

Now on version 1.4. New line added, to show elements that were discovered via synthesis and then found in nature.

By August 27, 2013 38 comments chemical education, fun

Speaking of To Many Periodic Tables…

My wife and I married 4 years ago overlooking the ocean in Palos Verdes, California. It was a very small wedding (n = 8) without a reception. A month ago, we finally got the chance to bring all our friends together for a better-late-than-never celebration in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My wife insisted we have a periodic table of cupcakes for dessert.

Two days before the party we learned that the business that was going to provide the cupcakes closed up shop. After a panicked internet search and a few telephone calls we found our last-minute, aptly named savior: Cupcake. With less than a 24-hour notice they had 120 cupcakes waiting for us to pick up.

Below are photos of the final display as well as a ‘flavor map’. The element labels/toppers were made out of colored, melted chocolate.  Looking back, my only regret is that I only had two cupcakes.

By July 11, 2013 6 comments fun

What’s with all the “periodic tables”?

I don’t know about you but I’m sick of all the imitation “periodic tables” doing the rounds. They just don’t make sense. How are periodic tables of muppets, candy or fonts anything but a collection of things that fit into those catergories. There’s rarely any periodicity to any of them, so why  call them a periodic table? Aren’t they just, well … tables? OK there are a few gem; ironically the periodic table of irritational nonsense is quite good and the periodic table of periodic tables deserves a mention. But on the whole aren’t they  just a load of clap trap.

Now if you want a really good varient of the periodic table how about this from science communicator and chemist Jamie Gallagher?  


By June 26, 2013 2 comments fun, general chemistry

Guest Post: The Periodic Table of T-Shirts.

Guest post by Dr Simon Norris a Chemistry teacher at a school in the UK. As his alter ego The Cycling Scientist he has visited primary schools with his science road show. His current interests are using IT to enhance teaching and learning and using social media to create personal CPD for teaching colleagues.

It’s a simple idea. Have 100 plus T-shirts printed in various colours, each with one of the chemical elements on the front. Distribute them to chemists around the world, who get a photo of themselves wearing it, send it to me and I compile the Periodic Table of T Shirts. Advertise the project via Twitter, have the chemists of the world tweet and retweet about it, and the orders would flood in. Another great idea of mine which I would mull over for a few days, perhaps tell a few friends about, do nothing and the opportunity is lost. Except this time, I actually gave it a go and it‘s been a really enlightening experience. Here’s how it happened.

I happen to have three students in my house whose names are also the symbols of chemical elements. I thought it would be fun to get one of them a T-shirt with his name on in the style of a periodic table entry as he had been particularly helpful to others in the house. My students are quite used to my chemistry geekiness so they would not have found this particularly odd. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anywhere that sold them, despite enquiring to the #RealTimeChem community on Twitter. How difficult would it be to design a T shirt and get it printed by one of the many online printers? Far too easy! How difficult would it be to organise T shirts for the rest of the chemistry geeks out there and arrange them into a periodic table of chemistry geeks wearing T-shirts of their favourite element? As it turns out, not too difficult either!

It was going to be straightforward to publicise the project via Twitter with hopefully a few favourable retweets from the likes of @realtimechem, but I was still missing a repository for the ordering information and a space to keep track of who had claimed which element. I needed a website and a blog. How hard could that be? You’ve guessed it- not very difficult at all. I was ready with the website within 24 hours of conception of the original idea. All I needed now was Photoshop and I would be in business. With Photoshop installed on my PC in minutes, courtesy of our fantastic IT department, I set about designing the logos for the shirts. Not so easy! I had never used Photoshop before and hadn’t realised what a huge array of options there would be. However, the great thing about the web is that you are never more than a couple of clicks away from a helpful website and an instructional video. Working with layers: easy! My first logo was ready within a couple of hours and my first batch of T-shirts to test out the idea was ordered a short while later.

The difficulty came with the colour scheme. As a teacher, I know that synthesis is at the apex of the pyramid in Bloom’s taxonomy. All I was doing was creating a few T shirts in different colours to make a periodic table. Mendeleev and others did the hard bit surely? I learned more about the periodic table that day than I had learnt in a long time as a chemistry student and teacher (Steve Wheeler’s post on Learning by Making also exemplifies the same idea ). Should I make the logos different colours for solids, liquids and gases? No, that would be testing my resolve too far if orders did start flooding in. However, choosing the colours for the different groups couldn’t be too tricky surely. Transition metals were going to be emerald green, but what about Zinc, Cadmium and Mercury? The other metals would be dark green, but where should I draw the line and should I have a different colour for the metalloids? I had an order for a Carbon shirt from @stuartcantrill who had seen one of the early retweets from @realtimechem. He suggested an earthy shade and I looked at the palette on the supplier website. Paprika looked like terracotta on the website, but three days later when my Silicon shirt arrived, paprika looked more like salmon pink (sorry Stuart and anyone else that orders one of the non-metals). I’m still not sure whether Lanthanum and Actinium should be the same colour as the transition metals or the lanthanides and actinides respectively but as this is a collaborative project I’m sure someone will advise me!  In the end the completed project will look like the table below, assuming everyone follows the instructions and orders the right colour.

There is a huge amount of interest at my school, but part of me wants these shirts to go to real chemists. Surely there should be someone currently working with each of the elements or an affection for one from some past association. Of course, I chose mine because it’s a shortened form of my name and it’s my project and my rules! My student is also very happy with his shirt and that is great because that’s where the idea started. But I’ve certainly learned a huge amount already, and I hope that by the time the periodic table is complete with chemistry folk sporting shirts of their favourite element, I might have learnt even more.

If you want to appear in the Periodic Table of T Shirts, choose one of the elements for yourself, contact me via Twitter (@cyclinscience) or via my blog and then order it online following the instructions provided. Don’t be put off by Mark Lorch’s suggestion that we can then each contribute to a montage of the Lehrer Periodic Table song. Now that really would be a displacement activity too far for me. Over to you Mark, I’ve got lessons to plan!

By May 12, 2013 3 comments chemical education, fun