Periodic Table 2
Neon is a gas at room temperature.

Periodic Table 2

This quiz is designed to test your understanding of the periodic table - something which is a must for GCSE Chemistry students. In it you will need to show your knowledge of the elements' reactions, symbols, physical and chemical properties, the ions they form, their place in the periodic table and their electron structure, as well as periodic table patterns.

When the GCSE was first taught, there were 108 elements known. This has steadily increased over the years and will no doubt continue to do so. In many cases, only a few atoms have ever been created so we may never know their properties. Only elements 1 to 92 (hydrogen to uranium) occur naturally, the others have been made during nuclear reactions where heavy nuclei are made to interact with each other in particle accelerators.

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You have already seen in the introduction to the previous quiz that it was only towards the end of the 18th Century that science had reached a point where the elements could be isolated, identified and catalogued. Early in the 19th Century, Johann Döbereiner started to attempt to classify the known elements on the basis of their properties. He created several groups of three elements (his triads) with similar properties. It was a good start and we see his triads in the modern periodic table. He also noticed that the middle element had an atomic weight that was close to the mean of the other two.

The first person to notice the periodicity of the elements was Alexandre-Emile Béguyer de Chancourtois. He arranged the elements in order of atomic weight in a spiral drawn on a cylinder. He spotted that similar elements lined up vertically. However, his work wasn't recognised until after Mendeleev had published his findings. By the 1860s, John Newlands had arranged the sixty-two known elements into groups of eight with similar peoperties - his 'octaves'. His work was originally ridiculed but it wasn't until the 20th Century that the significance of his work was recognised.

The periodic table as we know it now is based on the work of Dimitri Mendeleev. He also arranged the known elements in groups of 8 horizontally, but with similar properties occuring in the vertical columns. His leap of genius was to leave gaps for elements that he believed had not been discovered and to reverse the order of certain elements where they didn't fit the patterns. There were still many shortcomings of this table, such as where to place hydrogen. His periodic table was widely accepted because he was able to use it to predict the properties of the missing elements. When the noble gases were discovered, they were added as 'group 0' without disturbing the rest of the table. In the 20th century, knowledge of atomic structure enabled scientists to make more and more sense of how the elements should be arranged, leading to the periodic table that you use in your lessons today.

Not all UK exam boards and schools have adopted the official IUPAC numbering system at GCSE level. The old version using groups 1 - 8 (or alternatively groups 1 - 7 plus group 0 for the noble gases) is much better as a teaching tool, allowing average students to cope more easily with the concepts of electronic structure and chemical bonding. Even at A-level, exam boards tend to give preference to the pre-1988 periodic table numbering system. If you study chemistry at A-level, your teacher will probably introduce you to the current official numbering system in preparation for degree level. We have chosen to use the system used by exam boards and most schools in order to avoid confusion for the majority of subscribers.

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This quiz is designed to get you thinking of what you know about the elements on the periodic table. For each set of four elements, there are different possibilities, our answers are not the only correct ones. Take your time, have a piece of paper, pen or pencil plus your periodic table handy before the start. For each element mentioned, jot down their symbol, the number of electrons in their outer shell, the ions they form, whether they are metals or non metals, what group they are in, their reactivity, what state they are at room temperature, how they bond to other elements and whatever else you know or can find out about them. Whether or not you get full marks doesn't really matter, you will have spent valuable time revising the periodic table.
  1. Which is the odd one out?
    Platinum is the only transition metal. It is also the only precious metal
  2. Which is the odd one out?
    Potassium is the only reactive element
  3. Which is the odd one out?
    Tricky one this - carbon is the only element that is a solid at 30°C. You should be familiar with bromine and mercury being liquids at room temperature but you then also need to know that caesium, being near the base of group I, has a very low melting point for a metal
  4. Which is the odd one out?
    Iodine is the only element that is not a gas at room temperature
  5. Which is the odd one out?
    All the other elements have 5 outer electrons, sulphur has 6
  6. Which is the odd one out?
    All the other elements form covalent bonds or you could also have reasoned that it is the only metal on the list
  7. Which is the odd one out?
    All the others' symbols are the first two letters of their English name. Potassium's symbol is from the Latin word for alkali, Kalium
  8. Which is the odd one out?
    All the others form ions with either 1+ or 1- charge, calcium forms 2+ ions
  9. Which is the odd one out?
    All the other metals are transition metals
  10. Which is the odd one out?
    Polonium is the only metal element

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