In this activity, students will solve a puzzle by using element symbols from the periodic table to fill-in missing letters in familiar chemistry terms related to energy and thermodynamics.
By the end of this activity, students should be able to
- Associate element names with their element symbol.
- Recognize common chemistry terms related to energy and thermodynamics.
This activity supports students’ understanding of
- Periodic Table
- Energy & Thermodynamics
Teacher Preparation: minimal
Lesson: 15 - 20 minutes
- Student handout
- Periodic table
- No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.
- This activity was originally published in the February 2016 issue of ChemMatters Magazine. It has been republished in the AACT library with permission by the editor.
- This activity was chosen to be republished in the ChemFun section of the March 2019 issue of Chemistry Solutions in honor of the International Year of the Periodic Table.
- It was designed to be a short problem-solving activity to help student familiarize themselves with the names of common elements on the periodic table, as well as recognize common terms from a unit on Energy and Thermodynamics.
- It could be used at the beginning of a unit on Energy and Thermodynamics, to gauge their prior knowledge and familiarity with element names. Alternatively it might be used during or at the end of the unit.
- If you would like to make the puzzle more challenging for your students, remove the list of the element names from the student handout.
- An answer key document has been provided for teacher reference.
For the Student
This puzzle will test your knowledge of the elements and their symbols, as well as the topics of energy and thermodynamics.
Below, you will see 12 familiar terms. They are not anagrams but do have a few letters missing. Your task is to fill in those spots. The missing letters will be symbols of an element (but are not case sensitive). We will give you the names of all the elements used at the bottom of this page.
Be warned that elements up to atomic number 111 might be in play, so have a relatively new periodic table handy. As a solving aid, any missing symbol will be used just once (with one exception). Note that there are 14 elements with just one letter in their symbol. Three blanks in a row could contain three different symbols with one letter each, or they could contain one symbol with two letters and one symbol with one letter.
If you are given: E _ _ R G _, the missing letters are NE and Y, yielding ENERGY. Neon and Yttrium could then be crossed off the list of names. Note how the second letter of Ne is written in upper-case in order to solve the puzzle, which is fine.
Good luck with your element hunt!