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Memorizing the Periodic Table?

chemistry periodic table memorization

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#1 nova mama

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 03:49 PM

I was searching for recommendations on whether the periodic table should be memorized (at least part of it) by atomic number or column/group. Many are of the opinion that this is a waste of time. Is that the general consensus among classical HSers? If so, what are better ideas for science memory?

TIA!!

#2 Halcyon

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 03:51 PM

Hi-I had posted fairly recently that my son was memorizing the Periodic Table. However, we have since decided that memorizing the groups, and perhaps a few representative elements, is a more effective use of our time. He is also memorizing other science facts related to astronomy and geology. With regards to chemistry, he is memorizing the definitions of basics facts (electron, proton, nucleus, molecule, isotope, malleability etc.)

#3 Penelope

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 04:16 PM

I think memorizing all of them with the numbers is a waste. I think a case could be made for memorizing the more common elements and their atomic numbers.

I think:

bones of the body
organs and their location
order of taxonomy
planets
astronomical definitions
chemistry definitions
living things definitions (what are characteristics of a living thing, mammal, amphibian etc.)
layers of the earth
layers of the atmosphere


I think more useful than to memorize the periodic table is to learn facts about certain elements. What the continental crust is made of. What the oceanic crust is made of. What are the most common elements. What elemental gases make up the air we breathe and what percentages. and so on.

#4 amy in ks

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 05:37 PM

I'm a certified science teacher. Personally, I think learning the characteristics of the families, learning the symbols for the most common elements, and memorizing the charges of the most common ions would be a much better use of time.

#5 mcconnellboys

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 10:53 PM

This is what we're working on doing this year (so thanks for the affirmation!)

#6 Evanthe

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 08:29 AM

Here come the Weirdos! (us) :D

My daughter memorized the first two rows (ten elements) of the periodic table this fall. I think understanding the columns is a better idea, but hey, who am I to stop her? :tongue_smilie: When we actually cover chemistry, they'll have an understanding of how the elements are organized by properties.

Anyway, it doesn't hurt to memorize anything. I think it strengthens their minds when they practice memorization.

#7 angela in ohio

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 09:43 AM

Anyway, it doesn't hurt to memorize anything. I think it strengthens their minds when they practice memorization.


Exactly.

Anything that they can memorize before they get to high school level science is helpful: elements, parts of the systems of the body, layers of atmosphere, etc.

#8 anneofalamo

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 10:40 AM

we are just beginning a taste of the periodic table. My twin girls go into big huge fear eyeballs with science of most kinds. I had a friend send me this link and it is so much fun and learning the periodic table
Master the Periodic Table of Elements

#9 ChemMommy

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 12:10 PM

NO!!!

I teach college chemistry. In my class, they always have the PT for atomic numbers, columns, periods, etc. What you should teach them is the name, spellings, and symbols for at least the first 54 elements. Their location can be found on the PT when a student needs them. The PT is given on all major science exams, including the med school admissions test!!!

#10 TechWife

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 12:21 PM

NO!!!

I teach college chemistry. In my class, they always have the PT for atomic numbers, columns, periods, etc. What you should teach them is the name, spellings, and symbols for at least the first 54 elements. Their location can be found on the PT when a student needs them. The PT is given on all major science exams, including the med school admissions test!!!


Thank you, thank you, thank you! My hs chemistry teacher had us memorize the periodic table. It absolutely ruined any interest that I had in chemistry.

Those that have their students do vast amounts of memory work need to really think through the necessity of knowing the information that they include in their memory work. While I understand the desire to have a framework which the student can fill in later, we all need to make sure we are building the right frame. The right frame, of course, is somewhat individual. We just need to think about the big picture. There are a lot of things out there that beg to be memorized, but the periodic table isn't one of them.

Of course, this is just my opinion. Your mileage may vary, and all of the other usual disclaimers.

#11 NanceXToo

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 12:50 PM

Personally, I think that would be a huge waste of time, would be very boring, potentially stressful, and would not ever be retained in the long-term memory anyway. Eventually the kid is going to forget it. Maybe they'll remember a couple but most of it's going to exit the brain eventually once they stop constantly reviewing it.

I had an 8th grade social studies teacher who made us memorize the name of every president and the dates of their terms, in order.

Today, I can remember SOME of the names in order and NONE of the dates. I forgot those a LONG time ago once I stopped having to review them every single week.

I would think this would be the same.

#12 RootAnn

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 12:52 PM

I'm a certified science teacher. Personally, I think learning the characteristics of the families, learning the symbols for the most common elements, and memorizing the charges of the most common ions would be a much better use of time.


:iagree: Knowing names & characteristics of the families (metals, metalloids, noble gases) & being able to point to them on a Periodic Table (as in, these are the non-metals, this column is the noble gas group, etc.) is very helpful info to know & not that hard to memorize. Symbols corresponding to names of the more common (perhaps the 8-10 most common) elements would also be helpful. If you want something else, knowing how many electrons are in the different shells (first three or four) is another easy one to add to the list. Knowing some facts like which element(s) is/are the most common in the universe? On the earth? Etc. You could keep going with things like, which elements are usually di-atomic?

But science-y kids (which would mean not mine) pick up a lot of this in a good chemistry course. :D

#13 Evanthe

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 01:01 PM

Thank you, thank you, thank you! My hs chemistry teacher had us memorize the periodic table. It absolutely ruined any interest that I had in chemistry.


Maybe I need to clarify a little...:tongue_smilie: (and I also have a BS in science, so I know where everybody's coming from - you'll always have the PT to reference in class)

Kid Numero Uno is gifted (and I know this will spawn another horrible thread) and took it upon herself to memorize that section of the Periodic Table. Just to give you an example of how odd this kid is, I have a picture hanging on the frig where she drew the 5 states of matter. :glare: (you know, BEC, plasma, gas, etc...) She just turned 9 last week. Um, yeah. :001_huh:

I'm definitely not beating her while forcing her to memorize Pi, all to the tune of Mozart's Requiem. It's nothing like that. :D

#14 regentrude

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 01:12 PM

I am also a scientist and see no reason to memorize the periodic table.
It is useful to know the abbreviations of the most common elements, so that the student knows that Fe stands for Iron, for example.
The periodic table will begin to make a lot of sense once the student understands the reasons for the grouping, i.e. the electron structure of the element, and what consequences this has for the chemical properties. Then, many elements will be remembered with their proper place.
Before this kind of chemistry is taught, the memorization exercise is just busy work and I see no value in it.

#15 Halcyon

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 01:23 PM

we are just beginning a taste of the periodic table. My twin girls go into big huge fear eyeballs with science of most kinds. I had a friend send me this link and it is so much fun and learning the periodic table
Master the Periodic Table of Elements



Oh those are great! I'm printing them out now :)

#16 angela in ohio

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 01:28 PM

Maybe I need to clarify a little...:tongue_smilie: (and I also have a BS in science, so I know where everybody's coming from - you'll always have the PT to reference in class)

Kid Numero Uno is gifted (and I know this will spawn another horrible thread) and took it upon herself to memorize that section of the Periodic Table. Just to give you an example of how odd this kid is, I have a picture hanging on the frig where she drew the 5 states of matter. :glare: (you know, BEC, plasma, gas, etc...) She just turned 9 last week. Um, yeah. :001_huh:

I'm definitely not beating her while forcing her to memorize Pi, all to the tune of Mozart's Requiem. It's nothing like that. :D


Some of it does depend on if your dc enjoy and are good at it. If it was a big drag to have my dc memorize things, we'd do a lot less, I'm sure. As it is, though, they love it, and it's a big competition and game to them. Like your dd, I can't get them to stop memorizing things. Sometimes even useless things...

I'm more concerned that they learn the skills involved in memorizing - various techniques, sticking to it, etc. - so I don't care if it's the color codes and names for Dutch Boy paint or the periodic table. :D It might as well be something useful, though, especially as they are all interested in science. They've already thanked me about a million times for 'making' them memorize the countries of the world. They use that knowledge constantly in their studies, watching the news, reading magazines, conversations, etc.

Plus, it fits my rule of "if I had to learn it in school, you have to learn it." ;)

Don't apologize for admitting you memorize things here. :D This is/was a classical education board. It's the one spot in the homeschool worls where you can still say you make your dc memorize things. :lol:

Edited by angela in ohio, 15 December 2010 - 01:32 PM.


#17 allm52

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 03:23 PM

just a newbie chiming in... i have a science and math background and one of the biggest things that helped me through school was learning simply the first 17 elements to the tune of..

"H He LiBeB CNOF NeNa MgAl SiPS Chlorine"

read like ... h he le-bib kah-noff nina mcgal sips chlorine....

this was one of those super easy jingles (was originally taught to an older generation in bio type classes) that often sticks... for what it's worth! :)

#18 Aludlam

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 03:36 PM

NO!!!

I teach college chemistry. In my class, they always have the PT for atomic numbers, columns, periods, etc. What you should teach them is the name, spellings, and symbols for at least the first 54 elements. Their location can be found on the PT when a student needs them. The PT is given on all major science exams, including the med school admissions test!!!



I wish you had been my teacher! We had to have the whole kit and kaboddle memorized!

#19 nova mama

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Posted 17 December 2010 - 07:18 PM

Thank you for all of your responses! I think the consensus is that we should NOT memorize the entire periodic table!! :D I've been thinking about your suggestions, and we will memorize part of it. (I do "believe" in memorization, for reasons enumerated in WTM and here. DC can do it and they enjoy it.) I'm still working on the plan, but it will probably be something like:
All group names
Names and symbols of
--Metals in Groups 1 and 2
--First row of transition metals
--Nonmetals, halogens, noble gases, and noble metals
--Maybe a few others like lead, tin, and mercury

Thanks again for the input. It's so nice to have a place to discuss strange ideas like memorizing the periodic table. :)

#20 regentrude

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Posted 17 December 2010 - 07:22 PM

I'm still working on the plan, but it will probably be something like:
All group names
Names and symbols of
--Metals in Groups 1 and 2
--First row of transition metals
--Nonmetals, halogens, noble gases, and noble metals
--Maybe a few others like lead, tin, and mercury


But please, make sure that your kids know what the bolded words mean before having them memorize all "halogens". It will be more meaningful if they understand what is special about a halogen, what makes an element a noble gas etc. Again, I believe that learning in context will lead to a much better retention than just rote learning without understanding.

#21 nova mama

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Posted 17 December 2010 - 09:11 PM

But please, make sure that your kids know what the bolded words mean before having them memorize all "halogens". It will be more meaningful if they understand what is special about a halogen, what makes an element a noble gas etc. Again, I believe that learning in context will lead to a much better retention than just rote learning without understanding.


Agreed!



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