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Subject: Element ReSeArCH Project

This lesson was designed for general level chemistry students as an introduction to the periodic table and/or the elements (I have used it as an introduction to both topics). It involves having the students research the answers to several questions concerning the origin of the periodic table, naming of the elements, and basis for some of the element's names. I have had my classes spend two 50 minute class periods in our school's library using books, textbooks, encyclopedias, and current periodicals to complete the project.

I have found that this project helps my students become familiar with the periodic table (in general), the people involved in its creation, how the elements are named, some of the symbols derived from Latin and Greek element names (when the students know why the symbol for iron is Fe they tend to be able to remember it easier), and the relative placement of some of the elements. In addition to this, it helps my general students realize that chemistry isn't an isolated subject; within this project they look back at some history, investigate some etymology, encounter a few foreign languages, travel around the world, and gaze into space.

I hope it proves useful to you, and that you enjoy it as much as I do. If you have any comments or suggestions about this project please feel free to contact me.

Note: The greatest source of condensed information on the etymology of the elements is an article titled *"Elemental Etymology: What's in a Name?" by David W. Ball (Journal of Chemical Education Volume 62, Number 9, September, 1985, pg. 787-788). An additional resource is The Chemical Elements: Their Discovery and the Origins of their Names. However, I don't let the students use these resources.

*Provided with permission of author.


Element ReSeArCH Project
(MS Word 6.0)

Element ReSeArCH Project

Michael Geyer (m_geyer@thecatalyst.org)
Deer Park High School, Cincinnati, OH