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The Periodic Table# - Biology

The Periodic Table# - Biology


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The different elements are organized and displayed in the periodic table. The atomic structure of elements is responsible for their physical properties including whether they exist as gases, solids, or liquids under specific conditions and and their chemical reactivity, a term that refers to their ability to combine and to chemically bond with each other and other elements.

In the periodic table, shown below, the elements are organized and displayed according to their atomic number and are arranged in a series of rows and columns based on shared chemical and physical properties. In addition to providing the atomic number for each element, the periodic table also displays the element’s atomic mass. Looking at carbon, for example, its symbol (C) and name appear, as well as its atomic number of six (in the upper right-hand corner indicating the number of protons in the neutral nucleus) and its atomic mass of 12.11 (sum of the mass of electrons, protons, and neutrons).

Figure: The periodic table shows the atomic mass and atomic number of each element. The atomic number appears above the symbol for the element and the approximate atomic mass appears to the left.
Source: By 2012rc (self-made using inkscape) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Modified by Marc T. Facciotti - 2016

The Periodic Table# - Biology

The individual cells are designed to be informative, but not cluttered, and include a clear color coding showing the abundance of each element in a human. In practice, the information in the element-cells serves as a starting point for student projects--discovering the roles of the trace elements or micronutrients in cells, or finding the specific diagnostic or treatment aspects of individual elements. The text at the bottom is clear and interesting as it further integrates ideas of the two disciplines for students. Topics mentioned include Carbon, biotoxins, free-radicals and fossil dating. The notebook version provides for an excellent dry lab to get students seeing themselves as an atom repository and location of element exchange.


The Biology Poster is designed to be attractive, friendly and readable by students and parents with little background in chemistry. The Biology Periodic table bridges the chemistry-biology chasm, showing chemistry students the applications of elements in a biological setting while showing biology students that chemistry is the basis for virtually all topics in biology. Data presented includes the quantities of each element in a person, daily intake levels, medical uses and the general role of the element within cells.

click on thumbnails to see details

The Notebook version comes in packs of 30 with six pages of suggested questions and activities. It is useful as a "dry lab" to get students to see the effects and implications of chemical elements in biological systems. One example activity suggests relating the nutritional listings of different foods (breakfast cereals and multivitamin supplements are good) to the list of daily intake values on the handout. The questions are designed to stimulate thinking and investigations in biology, chemistry and middle school classes. As an activity resource, the handouts can be used and shared many times.


Periodic table

The periodic table of the chemical elements is a tabular method of displaying the chemical elements, first devised in 1869 by the Russian chemist Dimitri Mendeleev.

Mendeleev intended the table to illustrate recurring ("periodic") trends in the properties of the elements.

The layout of the table has been refined and extended over time, as many new elements have been discovered since Mendeleev's time, and new theoretical models have been developed to explain chemical behavior.

Various layouts are possible to emphasize different aspects of behavior the most common forms, however, are still quite similar to Mendeleev's original design.

The main value of the periodic table is the ability to predict the chemical properties of an element based on its location on the table.

It should be noted that the properties vary differently when moving vertically along the columns of the table, than when moving horizontally along the rows.

The periodic table is now ubiquitous within the academic discipline of chemistry, providing an extremely useful framework to classify, systematize and compare all the many different forms of chemical behavior.

The table has also found wide application in physics, biology, engineering, and industry.


Organization of the Periodic Table

The periodic table lists elements by atomic number, which is the number of protons in every atom of that element. Atoms of an atomic number may have varying numbers of neutrons (isotopes) and electrons (ions), yet remain the same chemical element.

Elements in the periodic table are arranged in periods (rows) and groups (columns). Each of the seven periods is filled sequentially by atomic number. Groups include elements having the same electron configuration in their outer shell, which results in group elements sharing similar chemical properties.

The electrons in the outer shell are termed valence electrons. Valence electrons determine the properties and chemical reactivity of the element and participate in chemical bonding. The Roman numerals found above each group specify the usual number of valence electrons.

There are two sets of groups. The group A elements are the representative elements, which have s or p sublevels as their outer orbitals. The group B elements are the nonrepresentative elements, which have partly filled d sublevels (the transition elements) or partly filled f sublevels (the lanthanide series and the actinide series). The Roman numeral and letter designations give the electron configuration for the valence electrons (e.g., the valence electron configuration of a group VA element will be s 2 p 3 with 5 valence electrons).

Another way to categorize elements is according to whether they behave as metals or nonmetals. Most elements are metals. They are found on the lefthand side of the table. The far right side contains the nonmetals, plus hydrogen displays nonmetal characteristics under ordinary conditions. Elements that have some properties of metals and some properties of nonmetals are called metalloids or semimetals. These elements are found along a zig-zag line that runs from the upper left of group 13 to the bottom right of group 16. Metals are generally good conductors of heat and electricity, are malleable and ductile, and have a lustrous metallic appearance. In contrast, most nonmetals are poor conductors of heat and electricity, tend to be brittle solids, and can assume any of a number of physical forms. While all of the metals except mercury are solid under ordinary conditions, nonmetals may be solids, liquids, or gases at room temperature and pressure. Elements may be further subdivided into groups. Groups of metals include the alkali metals, alkaline earth metals, transition metals, basic metals, lanthanides, and actinides. Groups of nonmetals include the nonmetals, halogens, and noble gases.


The Periodic Table# - Biology

Graphing Trigonometric Functions

In this section we will explore the graphs of the six trigonometric functions, beginning with the graph of the cosine function.

Graphing y = cos x

To sketch a graph of y = cos x we can make a table of values that we can compute exactly:

We can plot these points and sketch a smooth curve going through them:

Since the domain of the cosine function is all real numbers, we place arrows on the graph to indicate that the graph repeats itself exactly in both directions. The fact that the cosine function repeats itself means that that it is periodic. In particular, y = cos x is periodic with period 2&pi . This means that if the point (x, y) lies on the graph, then the point (x+2k&pi, y) will also lie on the graph where k is any integer. For example, (x + 2&pi, y) and (x &minus 2&pi, y) will both lie on the graph.

Graphing y = sin x

To sketch a graph of y = sin x we can make a table of values that we can compute exactly:

We can plot these points and sketch a smooth curve going through them:

Since the domain of the sine function is all real numbers, we place arrows on the graph to indicate that the graph repeats itself exactly in both directions. Like the cosine function, the sine function is also 2&pi periodic.

Graphing y = tan x

To sketch a graph of y = tan x we can make a table of values that we can compute exactly:

Notice that we now have some undefined functional values graphically, these correspond to vertical asymptotes. We can sketch y = tan x as follows:

In the above graph, the dashed lines indicate vertical asymptotes. We place arrows on the graph to indicate that the function increases to &infin. For example, tan x &rarr &infin as x &rarr (&pi/2) - (i.e. as x approaches &pi/2 from the left) and tan x &rarr &minus&infin as x &rarr (&pi/2) - (i.e. as x approaches &pi/2 from the right). Unlike the sine and cosine functions, the tangent function is &pi periodic. That is, if the point (x, y) lies on the graph of y = tan x so will the point (x + k&pi , y) where k is any integer.

Recall that the secant, cosecant, and cotangent functions are the reciprocals of the cosine, sine, and tangent functions, respectively. You are less likely to encounter these graphs in your studies of the life sciences. We are including these graphs for completeness.

Transforming y = cos x and y = sin x

We will now look at graphical transformations of y = cos x and y = sin x. We can write a transformed cosine and sine function as follows,

We call |a| the amplitude of the function. The amplitude is the distance from the minimum functional value to the maximal functional value divided by 2. The period of the above functions is 2&pi/b (notice when b = 1, the period is 2&pi). When modeling a particular quantity or phenomenon using a sine or cosine function, the amplitude and period are two important features defining the behavior. You can refer to the transformations section to examine the other transformations more closely.


A | The Periodic Table of Elements

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    As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

    Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book is Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 and you must attribute OpenStax.

      If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:

    • Use the information below to generate a citation. We recommend using a citation tool such as this one.
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      About the Author

      High school chemistry teacher Adrian Dingle is the creator of the award-winning chemistry Web site: adriandingleschemistrypages.com. His site has been recommended by the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse, the BBC, the National Science Teachers Association, and Cornell Theory Center --among many others. Born in England, he has taught in both the United States and United Kingdom and now lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where he teaches at The Westminster Schools. He holds a B.S. and a postgraduate certificate in education from the University of Exeter.

      Artist and designer Simon Basher has fun playing in the world of contemporary character design. Inspired by a love of simple line work and a rich color palette, his characters fill the gap between edgy manga and the cuteness of Hello Kitty. He lives in England.


      A brief history of the periodic table

      The periodic table of elements is a common sight in classrooms, campus hallways and libraries, but it is more than a tabular organization of pure substances. Scientists can use the table to analyze reactivity among elements, predict chemical reactions, understand trends in periodic properties among different elements and speculate on the properties of those yet to be discovered.

      The modern periodic table arranges the elements by their atomic numbers and periodic properties. Several scientists worked over almost a century to assemble the elements into this format.

      In 1789, French chemist Antoine Lavoisier tried grouping the elements as metals and nonmetals. Forty years later, German physicist Johann Wolfang Döbereiner observed similarities in physical and chemical properties of certain elements. He arranged them in groups of three in increasing order of atomic weight and called them triads, observing that some properties of the middle element, such as atomic weight and density, approximated the average value of these properties in the other two in each triad.

      A breakthrough came with the publication of a revised list of elements and their atomic masses at the first international conference of chemistry in Karlsruhe, Germany, in 1860. They concluded that hydrogen would be assigned the atomic weight of 1 and the atomic weight of other elements would be decided by comparison with hydrogen. For example, carbon, being12 times heavier than hydrogen, would have an atomic weight of 12.

      British chemist John Newlands was the first to arrange the elements into a periodic table with increasing order of atomic masses. He found that every eight elements had similar properties and called this the law of octaves. He arranged the elements in eight groups but left no gaps for undiscovered elements.

      In 1869, Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev created the framework that became the modern periodic table, leaving gaps for elements that were yet to be discovered. While arranging the elements according to their atomic weight, if he found that they did not fit into the group he would rearrange them. Mendeleev predicted the properties of some undiscovered elements and gave them names such as "eka-aluminium" for an element with properties similar to aluminium. Later eka-aluminium was discovered as gallium. Some discrepancies remained the position of certain elements, such as iodine and tellurium, could not be explained.

      German chemist Lothar Meyer produced a version of the periodic table similar to Mendeleev&rsquos in 1870. He left gaps for undiscovered elements but never predicted their properties. The Royal Society of London awarded the Davy Medal in 1882 to both Mendeleev and Meyer. The later discovery of elements predicted by Mendeleev, including gallium (1875), scandium (1879) and germanium (1886), verified his predictions and his periodic table won universal recognition. In 1955 the 101st element was named mendelevium in his honor.

      The concept of sub-atomic particles did not exist in the 19 th century. In 1913, English physicist Henry Moseley used X-rays to measure the wavelengths of elements and correlated these measurements to their atomic numbers. He then rearranged the elements in the periodic table on the basis of atomic numbers. This helped explain disparities in earlier versions that had used atomic masses.

      In the periodic table, the horizontal rows are called periods, with metals in the extreme left and nonmetals on the right. The vertical columns, called groups, consist of elements with similar chemical properties. The periodic table provides information about the atomic structure of the elements and the chemical similarities or dissimilarities between them. Scientists use the table to study chemicals and design experiments. It is used to develop chemicals used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries and batteries used in technological devices.

      UNESCO named 2019 the International Year of the Periodic Table to mark the 150 th anniversary of Mendeleev&rsquos publication. Researchers and teachers worldwide took this opportunity to reflect on the importance of the periodic table and spread awareness about it in classrooms and beyond. Workshops and conferences encouraged people to use the knowledge of the periodic table to solve problems in health, technology, agriculture, environment and education. Publication houses organized monthly activities such as quiz contests, podcasts, personal story sections and industry site tours. These initiatives demonstrated how the elements are integral to our daily lives in medicines, pesticides and lithium batteries.

      On its website marking the celebration, UNESCO wrote, &ldquoThe Periodic Table of Chemical Elements is more than just a guide or catalogue of the entire known atoms in the universe it is essentially a window on the universe, helping to expand our understanding of the world around us.&rdquo


      How we can share the periodic table in our homeschool

      Here's how we share the periodic table throughout the years:

      • In the elementary years, I introduce the idea of the periodic table, along with a simplified view of the groups.
      • D uring the middle school years, I teach the basic relationships that the periodic table can show us, along with the periods and groups.
      • And finally, for the high school years, the student can focus on learning the chemical principles and mathematics that the periodic table shows us.

      Teaching this foundation of chemistry in this manner allows our students to learn about the elements and the periodic table at a level they will understand as they build upon it throughout the years.

      You can introduce the periodic table informally through books and then use games to help your students learn the included elements, or you can choose to study chemistry more formally using a pre-planned program. Below are several of the options we have used along the way for homeschool science.

      The following books are a few of my favorites to learn more about the periodic table:

      *(The above links are affiliate links.)

      Here are two games to help your students learn more about the elements of the periodic table:

      And to help your kiddos memorize the periodic table here is a song:

      Finally, if you choose to use a program to learn more about the periodic table, we offer the following programs to help you out:

      No matter how you choose to share the periodic table with your students, it will serve to increase their understanding of chemistry deepen their appreciation of the elements that make up the world all around us!