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Education Collection

Hunting the Elements

  • Teacher Resource
  • 8.16.12
  • NOVA

Education Collections allow us to curate the most relevant online resources related to specific NOVA programs. Use this collection of resources as a source of inspiration for your classroom: find a video clip to start a discussion with your students, incorporate an activity or demonstration into your class, or get some ideas about how these resources can be strung together with our example lesson plan.

NOVA's "Hunting the Elements" shows viewers the world of weird, extreme chemistry. The media resources below allow educators to explore the periodic table in detail with their students—from its basic structure and properties to the sometimes volatile behavior of specific elements.

Documents

  • Periodic Table color

    Classroom Poster

    Document (PDF)

    Use this periodic table poster as a visual aid in your classroom.

  • Periodic Table black and white

    Classroom Handout

    Document (PDF)

    Use this periodic table handout as a reference for your students, or as an activity where students can color code the element groups.

Video Clips

  • a screenshot from the show

    Developing the Periodic Table

    Video Clip | 2:31

    Learn how the periodic table developed its current form when Dmitri Mendeleev organized the elements by families with similar properties.

  • a screenshot from the show

    What Makes an Element Reactive?

    Video Clip | 3:24

    Learn why some groups of elements on the periodic table are more reactive than others.

  • a screenshot from the show

    How Elements Form Compounds

    Video Clip | 3:22

    Examine how elements form compounds by watching two sodium reactions: a spectacular explosive reaction with water; and an exciting reaction with chlorine.

  • a screenshot from the show

    Rare Earth Elements

    Video Clip | 4:18

    Hear how rare earths are often used in technological applications and visit a rare earth mining site to learn more about where they are mined.

  • a screenshot from the show

    A Fission Chain Reaction

    Video Clip | 2:45

    Investigate the radioactive elements located at the bottom of the periodic table, and watch as ping-pong balls and mousetraps are used to demonstrate nuclear fission.

  • a screenshot from the show

    Radioactive Decay of Carbon-14

    Video Clip | 3:06

    Explore how isotopes of carbon can be used to determine the age of once-living matter.

  • a screenshot from the show

    Atomic Structure of an Alloy

    Video Clip | 4:33

    Find out how copper is typically alloyed with tin to make bronze—a metal alloy widely used in tools and weapons during the Bronze Age and still in use today.

  • a screenshot from the show

    The Value of Copper

    Video Clip | 3:49

    Find out about the valued properties of copper and how its price is an economic indicator.

Multimedia

  • a screenshot from the interactive

    NOVA Elements

    Interactive

    Explore the periodic table, and build atoms and molecules in this web edition of the NOVA Elements iPad app.

  • a screenshot from the interactive

    NOVA Elements iPad App

    Interactive

    Explore an interactive periodic table, combine elements to make real stuff, and watch the two-hour NOVA program.

Lesson Plan

Use this lesson plan in your classroom - or as inspiration for creating your own "Hunting the Elements" lesson plan.

  • STEP1
    a screenshot from the show
    Use this video to help students understand how atomic structure determines reactivity. Meet Theo Gray, chemist and author, who helps David explore how the electron configuration of an atom affects its ability to combine with other atoms. Discover why noble gases are not reactive and why halogens and alkali metals are highly reactive.
  • STEP2
    a screenshot from the interactive
    Using the interactive periodic table, have students build one atom from each of the groups discussed in the video (either individually or as a class). Discuss what an atom is, what each atomic model looks like in space, and the different atomic structures - including the organization of the electrons, protons, and neutrons of each atom.
  • STEP3
    a screenshot from the show
    To help your students learn more about how elements react with each other, watch this video that investigates chemical reactions involving sodium. Find out how the electron configuration of sodium, an alkali metal, makes it a highly reactive element. Meet chemist and author Theo Gray, who demonstrates two sodium reactions: a spectacular explosive reaction with water; and an exciting reaction with chlorine, a highly reactive halogen. Examine how sodium and chlorine atoms combine to form the compound sodium chloride (ordinary table salt).