• Question: why do we need the periodic table ?

    Asked by leigha1234 to Angela, Gabriele, Karen, Shane on 20 Nov 2013.
    • Photo: Shane Mc Guinness

      Shane Mc Guinness answered on 20 Nov 2013:

      Thanks for the question Leigha,
      Although it looks really complicated, without the periodic table it would be very hard to understand what all the elements are in our world that make u literally everything! You need an alphabet to understand words right? And sometimes this alphabet is easier to understand when written down so we can see how all the letters relate to each other. Well, the periodic table is exactly this. It’s ordered based on the masses of the elements, which is based on how many nuetrons, protons and electrons make up their structure. Though most of the elements on the table we never use, the first 20 or so are very important indeed as they make our own bodies and our world!

    • Photo: Gabriele De Chiara

      Gabriele De Chiara answered on 20 Nov 2013:

      Hello leigha1234, Mendeelev found a pattern on the number of electrons of an atom and their properties. In fact he discovered that when all the electronic shells are complete we get the elements of the last column that are the noble gases: Helium, Neon, Argon. Thanks to the completeness of the shells, these gases do not interact chemically with other elements (that’s why they’re noble!). Then you have the first column where you have an extra electron on top of a complete shell: hydrogen, Litium, Sodium, Potassium that are called alkali atoms. With the exception of hydrogen, they are all metals. Second column two electrons and so on. So you see that even if Helium has two electrons in total and Krypton has 36 they both are noble gases. This is why it is called the periodic table, because every time that the number of electrons in the external shell are the same you get similar properties.

    • Photo: Karen McCarthy

      Karen McCarthy answered on 20 Nov 2013:

      On a fun note…..can you learn them all?

      The Periodic Table Song

    • Photo: Angela Stevenson

      Angela Stevenson answered on 20 Nov 2013:

      oh that’s a good question too Leigha! there’s sooooo many elements (118) that we’d be completely lost without some way to organize them. This way we can refer to the periodic table to see how much they weigh, how many electrons, protons and neutrons they have. And most importantly, it also allows us to figure out which elements are most similar… just by looking at the periodic table. It’s just so handy, I m glad it was invented – it saves us a lot of hassle in the long run 🙂 hope that helps!