The Elements: A Quiz Deck on the Periodic Table
Sample Card Text
What is the purpose of the periodic table of elements?
(a) to annoy high school chemistry students
(b) to illustrate certain properties of—and relationships among—the various elements
(c) to provide an easy way to memorize the chemical symbols
(d) all of the above
Answer (b) The periodic table lists all the known elements and arranges them in a form allowing the user to ascertain important characteristics of any element by its location on the table. Knowing the physical properties of the individual elements (e.g., mass, color, etc.) is an important part of understanding chemistry. Equally important is knowing the elements’ chemical properties—that is, how they combine to form the roughly 40 million substances (so far) found in nature or artificially produced by humans. Combinations of elements, or compounds, affect every aspect of life and include everything from the air we breathe to the food and water that sustain us. Some elements exist in nature only in compounds. So in addition to providing information about each individual element, the periodic table helps the user answer questions about how different elements will react when combined—questions, for example, like, “Should I have my will prepared before I drop this spoonful of caesium (55) into a glass of water?”