CHEMISTRY: The Periodic Table Part V

11 Minutes

This fifth installment looks at the most recently discovered elements (including Ununseptium and Ununtrium) and the type of commitment and research that is required to make such discoveries. We will introduce students to precious elements such as gold, silver and copper and will illustrate how “The Big Three” were instrumental in the development of ancient and modern civilizations. Careers in chemistry and element research are highlighted in this dynamic episode.


In 1863, John Newlands organized the 56 elements known to scientists by their atomic structure. Building upon Newlands’ understanding of elements, Dimitri Mendeleev used the atomic mass of elements to organize what we now know as the periodic table. Since then, scientists have been discovering elements for the periodic table through painstakingly hard work, searching for new and heavier elements, or series of elements, that are stable and useful. Learning how atoms are held together sheds light on the creation of matter, and its limitations.

Super heavy synthetic elements, elements comprised of more than 104 protons, are created in labs by adding protons to a pre-existing element. Although these super heavy elements are man-made, it does not diminish their importance. Newly added elements to the seventh row of the table, elements 113, 115, 117, and 118, are confirmation that with dedication and long and tedious work, breakthroughs are possible.

It is important to understand how the “Big Three” precious metals were instrumental in the development of ancient civilizations. These elements – gold, silver, and copper, are a prevalent influence in industries throughout the world today. From ancient Egypt to the US Gold Rush of 1848, gold has been the most useful precious metal; sought after for its beauty and economic power. Secondary to gold is silver, with comparable influence over ancient and current civilization. Copper ranks third as the most consumed industrial metal. Each metal contributes its own unique attributes to the industries of science, including health care, agriculture, technology, and energy.

The vast uses of elements found on the periodic table lead to occupations that center around their utilization. Careers in engineering such as biochemical, biomedical and chemical, along with those focused on metals such as metallurgists and materials scientists, transform knowledge of the periodic table of elements into a life-long pursuit of developing products and research that benefit society.


Antimicrobial: An agent that kills microorganisms.
Biochemical engineer: An engineer that conducts studies on cells, proteins and other biological substances to observe interactions
between raw materials.
Biomedical engineer: An engineer that integrates biological science, medicine and engineering to improve health care.
Chemical engineer: An engineer that relies on and applies engineering knowledge to develop solutions that can overcome challenges in
various areas of everyday life, i.e. food processing.
International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry: The organization responsible for confirming the discovery of new elements.
Malleability: Capable of being shaped by hammering or pressing.
Materials scientist: Scientific professional that examines the chemical properties of metals to create new or custom materials with
specific properties for specific purposes.
Metallurgist: A material scientist who specializes in metals by examining the performance and use or each.
Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus: MRSA – Antibiotic Resistant Infection.
Moscovium: Newly added element number 115; abbreviated Mc.
Nihonium: Newly added element number 113; abbreviated Nh.
Oganesson: Newly added element number 118; abbreviated Og.
Particle accelerator: An apparatus designed for accelerating subatomic particles to high velocities by way of electric fields.
Smelt: The process to extract ore by the act of heating and melting.
Synthetic elements: Elements that do not exist naturally in nature; these elements are only created in a laboratory.
Superheavy elements: Elements that are comprised of more than 104 protons and are created using particle accelerators.
Tennessine: Newly added element number 117; abbreviated Ts.

Vocabulary Learning Tool: Make a Jeopardy Game.






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