Hunting the Elements

Published on Sunday, April 08, 2012 in , , , , , ,

Kordas' Periodic Table photoI've posted about memorizing the periodic table of the elements before, but understanding is just as important.

You might think trying to understand the basics of the elements would be a chore, but it can actually be quite fun.

Surprisingly, one of the best introductions to the atom I've ever seen is not from a documentary, but an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. In this episode, Venus is trying to help a friend whose son has dropped out of school. In the following scene, Venus explains the basics of the atom in an effort to help get the son to go back to school:

Earlier this week, NOVA aired a special called Hunting the Elements. The full special is about 2 hours long, and I recommend you make time to watch the entire thing.

Below are two short excerpts from that special, both roughly 8 minutes long. This first one discusses why the periodic table is arranged the way it is:

This second excerpt talks about the characteristics of the atom that gives each element gets its particular properties:

For more direct learning, NOVA has provided some wonderful teaching tools, such as their Name That Element Quiz. If you have an iPad, check out the NOVA Elements app (iTunes link). It not only includes the entire special, but also lets you play around with the elements by building atoms, putting them together in compounds, and much more!

Should you want to learn specific information about a given element, there's a great site called the Periodic Table of Videos. The periodic table on their homepage links to videos about the corresponding element. These videos are also available on their YouTube channel.

Of course, one of the things for which Grey Matters is known is teaching how to memorize just about anything. If you've been inspired to try and memorize the periodic table, check out my 2008 Elementary post. (Being 4 years old, some of the links are no longer available, but most of them are still functional.)

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