Fun with the Periodic Table of the Elements

Yup I said FUN! E9 has been doing a unit study on Marie Curie and he’s gotten far enough to learn that she has been isolating some radioactive elements from an ore called pitchblende. She discovers polonium and radium and successfully isolates both.

Of course discussion of elements leads us to the Periodic Table of the Elements. Every chemist’s dream and perhaps every chemistry student’s nightmare!

I’ve done plenty of work with the table myself, but you know it is a fun tool especially if you really understand how it was put together and all the information about an element it can tell you. Just the placement of an element in the table tells you an awful lot about it.

The other day in the van on the way to get groceries we had quite a discussion on which elements are where and which ones are highly reactive and why they are right next to the noble gases (the elements that are super inert or non-reactive). Today E9 spent some time on this very cool site. Web Elements– is a site that allows you to interact with the table and if you click on an element, it gives you tons of facts about it plus a picture and it table information.

In the science reference above there is a wonderful two page layout of the Periodic Table and the quick links led us to web elements. This is definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of chemistry.

When I told Dan about it, he says he uses it at work to find out the resistivity of various elements. Can you believe he kept it a secret?

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E9’s Week with Marie Curie

E9 did some really nice experimenting with magnets this week. After doing experiments and reading more about different types of magnets and what is magnetic, he made a fact page about magnets. It was interesting to learn that the chips the kids use with the magnet wands are actually temporary magnets. Ok, who remembers what a temporary/permanent magnet is??

Last week E9 worked diligently to make a meter stick carefully marking off by the decimeter until he reached one meter which would be 10 decimeters. Unfortunately, he found that our recently taken down blind slats are just short of a meter. He was able to improvise and measure all sorts of things in the house in meters. This was also a great way to show that a meter is longer than a yard. We talked a lot about the metric system and he recorded the basic units of metric measurement for many different areas. He measured the amount of liquid he drinks per day in liters.

Scientists use the metric system exclusively even in America. After graduating with a biology degree I sure know that 2.5 cm is one inch and 5ml is a tsp. Funny though…just like a foreign language I still relate it back to units I am more familiar with. Well except I don’t know how many quarts are in a 2L bottle of soda!

It was funny to talk about how when I was in school going metric was a big deal and now I can’t remember the date that the US was going metric! Well America made it as far as the 2 liter bottle and said, “That’s it! No more!”

One assignment was to identify and discuss the Baltic Sea and it’s importance for Eastern European nations. This gave us the chance to realize why ports are crucial to countries for trade and why countries need to trade.
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What’s been happening with E9’s study of Marie Curie?

E9 has been a busy student reading about Marie Curie’s early life and studying some geography of the region. He started his notebook pages so we’ll share some here. Our notes on this study will be here and there and we hope to finish by the end of October.

Each week he does several assignments per chapter in addition to his weekly spelling work and his dictation. Usually once a week (sometimes twice) he copies down several paragraphs of the text while I read it to him. He’s getting pretty good at plowing on through. The text is chosen based on the grammar concepts that I’d like to work on with him. When the passage is complete, we go over his writing and misspellings are pointed out. His punctuation, particularly the use of commas, is coming right along. Typically he places them just right based on how the passage is read and if he’s missing one I just need to say, “You know that sentence actually has three commas.” Then he’ll take a look and add missing comma into the correct place. I wasn’t sure about this method of teaching grammar, but I’d have to say it is working very well for E9. We use a book called Learning Grammar through Writing for our scope and sequence. Later in the week, he has to correct any misspelled words and answer questions or make lists, etc. based on the grammar concepts of the week. For example, today he had to correct two misspelled words which in this case lead to a discussion about the word medal vs. metal. That was a hot debate…whether medal even existed though I assured him it did! He identified why the word “and” in one sentence was italicized. He wasted no time in telling me it is for emphasis. We reviewed why there are commas in the long version of writing out dates. The one thing we may need to tweak is his definition of nervous breakdown. His reads, “When a person is having one, they freak out.” I’ll have to check on that!

He’s been working on learning a little about Russian Czars and a lot about lakes. Here are some more notebook pictures. I’m still working on training this new photographer so bear with us!

This page details what a lake is, how they are formed, and how we use them.

Lists of man made vs. natural lakes.

E9 made a book on the world’s largest lakes both fresh and salt water. He made cards for each one telling the name and its location.

These two pictures above describe the science of physics both classic and modern. Marie’s dad was a physicist as was Marie.

Physical map of Poland including some of the regions we could identify based on the descriptions.

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