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Properties of Elements Activities for Middle School

Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Do you need some fun, interactive activities to help students understand the properties of elements? These activities are geared towards middle school students and can be used alongside textbook lessons or as standalone lessons.

Properties of Elements

Learning about elements sounds dull, but it can be fun. These activities allow students to collaborate with classmates, be creative, and explore elemental properties and how elements are arranged on the periodic table.

Candy Table

Materials

  • Sets of various objects that can be grouped into categories; suggestions include:
    • Fruit (apple, grape, and grapefruit)
    • Office supplies (paper clip, stapler, and scissors)
    • Cleaning supplies (sponge, paper towels, and cleaner)
  • All sorts of different types of candy for each group (25-30 pieces per group)

Instructions

  • Divide students into groups.
  • Mix up the 'various items' and place them on a desk in the front of the room.
  • Ask each group to come up with a way to separate and organize the items on the desk.
  • Call on student groups and decide (as a class) on a way to organize the various materials.
  • On the board, make a periodic table for various objects with the class (see sample):

Group 1: The Fruit Group 2: Office Supplies Group 3: Cleaning Supplies
Grape Paperclip Sponge
Apple Scissors Paper towels
Grapefruit Stapler Cleaner
  • Discuss how each object is ordered in the group (for example, they increase in size from top to bottom).
  • Tell students they are going to do the same thing with candies. Outline the ground rules:
    • There must be at least four groups on the candy periodic table.
    • The groups need to share similar properties.
  • Give students time to create their tables on a piece of paper, and then have them answer the following:
    • What properties does each group share?
    • What was the most difficult part of organizing the candy?
  • Use this activity to introduce the real periodic table and compare the creation of the candy periodic table to that of the real periodic table (challenges faced, collaboration, and how elements are arranged based on properties).

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