The Periodic Table

Public summary: 

Explore different elements, their uses, and how their properties relate to build up the periodic table.

Explore the elements.
Useful information
Kit List: 

Currenlty these are in a mixture of sample jars but hopefully each element will go into a small uniform box which can be moved into a periodic table shape, the display is not ideal at the moment.
There are lots of samples detailed in the description. They cover elements
3, 6, 7, 11-16, 20, 22, 24, 26-30, 34, 42, 47, 50-51, 74, 79, 82, 90, 92-93, 95
If you have good way to display the gases then let me know!

Packing Away: 

This lives in a new small blue box called 'Periodic Table, Alloys and Carbon Allotropes' and all three experiments can be done together.


So there are lots of ideas of ways you could demonstrate this. Firstly as a show-and-tell exhibit where people can pick out elements, you can talk about them and ask them about what they think they'd be used for and maybe to pick out what similar elements there are. Secondly would be to try and build up bits of the periodic table, if you've got any ideas about how to do this then let me know!

3 Lithium
This sample composes of some lithium pellets, the bag is sealed in argon however it maybe submerged in mineral oil in a specimen jar soon. There's also a lithium ion battery. It has some bodily function and is highly reactive, it tarnishes on exposure to air and reacts violently with water. In terms of bodily function it's often prescribed for things like bipolar disorder however the mechanism of what it does in the body is not well understood.
6 Carbon
There are samples of graphite from a pencil, an electrode from inside a battery. Carbon is a very abundant element and makes up majority of us. It can form long polymers which is important for plastics.
7 Nitrogen
This sample is of the air and only 78% pure. Nitrogen forms a triple bond with itself which is why it's highly nonreactive in the atmosphere.
11 Sodium
Similar to Lithium in storage and type, they're both alkali metals. This sample is under mineral oil however you can see it has tarnished. Reacts less violently with water. It's essential for our body and most of our sodium comes via sodium chloride salt.
12 Magnesium
This sample is a bar from a firelighting kit. It's a common element and flame tests as a brilliant bright light. It's essential for the body and is needed in over 300 enzymes and interacts with phosphates like ATP, DNA and RNA.
13 Aluminium
This sample has some aluminium foil. Aluminium is commonly used in aerospace as it's light and tough.
14 Silicon
This sample has some old electronics and transistors, plus some silica gel. Silicon is used in microchips as it's a semiconductor. Some animals like sea sponges secrete silica exoskeletons.
15 Phosphorus
This sample is the striker from a matchbox. It's essential for life with it being a key part of DNA, ATP and RNA.
16 Sulphur
This sample is just sulphur. Sometimes called brimstone in the bible. Lots of it's compounds have a bad smell.
20 Calcium
This is sample of metal under oil. There should also be a sample of a bone with it. Most people will know bones are made of calcium but it looks so metalic! Calcium Carbonate is also limestone.
22 Titanium
Low density, high strength and corrosion resistant material. The sample is some bolts which would be used in the aeronautical industry.
24 Chromium
Flakes of metal. Hard but brittle and highly resistant to tarnishing. 85% of usage is in stainless steel and electroplating. See the alloys experiment for more.
26 Iron
Iron filings, nails and cast iron bits. Commonly oxidises to form orange rusts. Mixes with carbon to form steel. Important in biology for haemoglobin and blood (although some animals use copper instead e.g. lobsters which have blue blood)
27 Cobalt
Many of it's compounds have deep blue colours and have been used as dyes. It's ferromagnetic and a key part of some enzymes and vitamin B12.
28 Nickel
There's some nickel wire and possibly some old Canadian currency. Lots of it used to be used for coins but most now goes into alloys, especially stainless steel and copper.
29 Copper
A ball bearing and some wire. High thermal and electrical conductivity. Very valuable. Low melting point meant it was used in earl weapons.
30 Zinc
A US cent with coating removed. Brass alloys coper and zinc. also used in batteries, and in galvanising. Forms a centre for several enzymes and people get zinc deficiency.
34 Selenium
Used for photocells and semi conductors as well as DC surge protection. Also as a pigment.
41 Niobium
Sample is a body piercing. Often used in alloys and superconducting ones. It can also anodise to lots of colours and is hypoallergenic so sees use in body piercings.
42 Molybdenum
80% used in steel alloys, including superalloys. Biological catalyst for breaking dinitregeon bond.
47 Silver
Highest electrical, thermal conductivity and reflexivity of any element. Used in solar panels and x-ray and photographic film. Also disinfectant and microbiocide. Sample is of silver leaf.
50 Tin
Alloyed with copper to get bronze. Used in solder, tin plating and electrical conducting. Sample is from a lead-free fishing weight.
51 Antimony
Used as plates in lead acid batteries, often alloyed with lead in solder and used in fire retardants. Emerging uses in microelectronics.
74 Tungsten
Highest melting and boiling points of all discovered element, very dense (1.7 times that of lead)/ Heaviest element known to be essential to a living organism.
79 Gold
Highly nonreactive, including to most acids. It's also a great electrical connector. Sample is gold leaf.
82 Lead
Heavy metal soft and malleable. Low melting point. Was used for plumbing until it's toxicity was realised. Sample is fishing weights as very dense.
90 Thorium
Gas mantle. With uranium it's the only naturally occurring radio-element in large quantities. Alternative nuclear fuel and used in high end optics.
92 Uranium
Sample is a uranium or Vaseline glass marble, very low radiation but DO NOT EAT. Glows under black light. Heaviest primordial element. Used in atomic bombs. Half life varies from 160000-4.5B years. Useful for dating (determining ages, not the other sort!)
93 Neptunium
Actinide. It's poisonous, radioactive, can spontaneously combust and also builds up in bones... It's a decay product of Americium so our sample is also a smoke detector. After 20 years it should be 3% neptunium and I bought them second hand so don't know how old they are.
95 Americium
Synthetic actinide, sample from a smoke detector. Emits mainly alpha radiation so is safe to use in these alarms. There is 0.3 micrograms in each alarm so very little. Half life of 432.2 years.

Risk Assessment
Date risk assesment last checked: 
Thu, 26/12/2019
Risk assesment checked by: 
Date risk assesment double checked: 
Mon, 20/01/2020
Risk assesment double-checked by: 
Beatrix Huissoon
Risk Assessment: 


Hazard Risk Likelihood Severity Overall Mitigation Likelihood Severity Overall
Toxic elements Possibility of ingestion and poisoning. 3 5 15 DO NOT allow ANY of them out of the sample jars.
If ingested, call 111 for immediate advice on the ingestion of a poisonous substance.
1 5 5
Radioactive elements Possibility of radiation damage if handled for prolonged periods. 2 4 8 All radioactive samples are in safest form (e.g. uranium glass).
Avoid prolonged exposure, do not place in pockets and keep a careful eye on these elements. DO NOT allow out of sample jars. [Use a metal lined container while not being viewed if cautious]
Call 111 for immediate advice if ingested. Levels are low so exposure presents limited additional risks.
1 4 4
Reactive elements Elements may react violently (alkali metals and water) 4 5 20 Make sure children are old and sensible enough to hold elements, if dropped and broken be careful of clearing up, considering if use of water and/or bleach is appropriate.
First aid and if spilt clear area with appropriate cleaning measures.
2 3 6
Sharp/pointed samples Possibility of ingestion and poisoning. 3 3 9 Keep all samples in provided jars.
First aid if cuts/scratches do occur.
Consult 111 if risk of poisoning through contact.
1 2 2