Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Interactives -- The Periodic Table Pick Another Interactive

What's In the Box :


Tool: Interactive Periodic Table

The second item you will find in the box on any periodic table is the symbol for the element. It may be either one capital letter or a combination of one capital and one lowercase letter. The letter(s) usually have something to do with some form of the name of the element. Some are very easy to figure out, like H for hydrogen or O for oxygen. Others refer to older names for the element in different languages like Greek or Latin. This can be very confusing unless you know the original names. Here is a list of several elements and their original names to try to make learning the symbols easier.

Atomic # current name original name symbol
13 sodium Natrium Na
26 iron Ferrum Fe
29 copper Cuprum Cu
47 silver Argent Ag
50 tin Stannum Sn
51 antimony Stibnum Sb
74 tungsten Wolfram W
79 gold Aurum Au
80 mercury Hydrargyrum (liquid silver) Hg
82 lead Plumbum Pb

There are some sentences we can use to try to learn and remember the symbols for these elements that are way off from their element name today. I have listed them below for you. If you don't like these sentences, you can always make up your own. It might even help you learn them better.

Natron is the Sodium salt the ancient Egyptians used to make mummies.
Fe - Fi -Fo Ferrum, Iron in steel makes a better weapon.
I "Cu" have a Copper cup of rum (Cuprum) .
We will mine the Silver Again in Argent-ina.
Sneak a peak at the Tin in your stannous (Stannum) fluoride toothpaste.
Sb Stibnum does not believe in paying his Antimony.
Wee Willie Wolfram got his Tung-sten-d with an electric shock.
The Gold-en goddess of the dawn is Aurum.
Mercury is the liquid silver from Hydrargyrum of old.
"Pb" the Plumbum plumber uses Lead pipes only in his work.

Illustration explaining the various elements of a periodic table box

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