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E-config Battleship Mark as Favorite (69 Favorites)

ACTIVITY in Electron Configuration. Last updated March 25, 2020.


In this activity, students review electron configurations by using the periodic table like a Battleship board.

Grade Level

High school


By the end of this lesson, students should be able to

  • Know how to determine electron configurations of elements based on their position on the periodic table.

Chemistry Topics

This lesson supports students’ understanding of

  •  Electron configuration


Teacher Preparation: 15 minutes

Lesson: 1–2 class periods


  • 1 manila folder per student
  • 2 laminated periodic tables per folder
  • 2 dry erase markers per student (different colors)


No safety concerns need to be accounted for in this activity.

Teacher Notes

  • Tape the periodic tables to the top and the bottom of the inside of the manila folder, both of them right side up. This way students can sit on either side of the folder and not see each other’s periodic table.
  • The number of ships can be increased which will create more “hits” and more fun!
  • The method of stating configurations can vary.  For example, Ge could be stated as 4p2 or 4s2 3d10 4p2 or [Ar] 4s2 3d10 4p2.

For the Student



To know how to look at an element on the periodic table and instantly determine its electron configuration.


  • 1 manila folder per student
  • 2 laminated periodic tables per folder
  • 2 dry erase markers per student-different colors

How to play

  • The game is played like traditional battleship. Each student has the manila folder open so that the opponent cannot see his/her periodic table.
  • Each player puts a line through the appropriate number of elements to indicate an aircraft carrier (5 elements), a battleship (4 elements), a submarine (3 elements), a destroyer (3 elements), and a PT boat (2 elements).
  • The first player calls a valence configuration for an element of his/her choice. For example, carbon would be 2p2. The other player states the name of the element called (to verify understanding of the “code” between the players), and then says “hit” or “miss.”
  • The player stating the configuration marks the top periodic table to note shots taken and the player being shot at marks hits and misses on the bottom periodic table.
  • Play continues until all ships are sunk.