Story of the Elements

Published on Thursday, October 10, 2013 in , , , ,

Kordas' Periodic Table photoOne of the most feared things students come across is the periodic table of the elements.

They see the sheer number of elements, and all the details such as atomic numbers, weights, and symbols, and it's easy to see why it's considered to be overwhelming. In this post, you can learn to not only tame this beast, but have a little fun with it, as well!

Among the best ways to remember things are by memorizing them in groups, and with a story. YouTube user freegyan gyanlee, with the help of an illustrator friend, is putting out a series of free videos using these techniques to teach the element name, based on the book Memorize the Periodic Table.

Start by learning elements 1 through 10, and when you're comfortable with that story, then move on to the next 10 or so elements. Here is the first video in the series:

The nice thing about the story approach is that, should you desire to remember more about each element, you can attach sillier and more unusual details to the appropriate image. For example, if you wish to remember that boron is the 5th element, you might have the bee being bribed with a $5 bill to bore on the balloon, or perhaps the bee bores on the balloon by accident because he's watching the movie The Fifth Element.

In fact, if you added images to represent just the multiples of 5 to each element (5 to the 5th element, 10 to the 10th, 15 to 15th, and so on), you could make it easy to get the elemental number of almost any element by starting from the named element, and working backwards or forwards to the nearest element with an image for the multiple of 5. For example, what number is nitrogen? Well, we know the night-row general lost his car to a car bomb that resulted when the bee bore on the balloon while watching The Fifth Element, so nitrogen must be 2 elements after number 5, therefore, nitrogen must be element number 7!

At this writing, there aren't video to cover all 118 elements yet. However, there are more than enough to keep you busy:

Elements 11-20

Elements 21-30

Elements 31-40

Elements 41-50

Elements 51-63

If you'd like to find out more mnemonics for the periodic table of the elements, check out the Mnemonics Devices for the elements here. As many a memorizer has learned, taking things slow, and making them fun, silly, and unusual is one of the best way to keep things in your mind.

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Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium,
Beryllium, Boron, Carbon
Nitrogen, Oxygen, Florine, Neon