Name That Element!

Which element on the periodic table helps makeup dazzle, protects birds, and treats an upset stomach? Follow these five clues to find out.

TED M. KINSMAN/SCIENCE SOURCE

COLORFUL CRYSTALS

COLORFUL CRYSTALS

In nature, this metal isn’t usually found by itself. It’s often combined with other elements in naturally occurring solids called minerals. In its pure form, the element has a silvery white color and is extremely brittle. “If you drop it on the floor, it’ll shatter,” says Bob Jarrett, a metallurgist who studies metals at the Indium Corporation in New York. Crystals of the mystery element easily oxidize, or react with oxygen, creating a multicolored iridescent coating on their surface.

Got it already? Score 100 points. If not, read clue #2.

This metal isn’t usually found alone in nature. It’s often combined with other elements. Together, they naturally form solids called minerals. The element's pure form is silvery white and very brittle. “If you drop it on the floor, it’ll shatter,” says metallurgist Bob Jarrett. He studies metals at the Indium Corporation in New York. Crystals of the mystery element easily oxidize, or react with oxygen. This creates a shimmering, multicolored coating on their surface.

Got it already? Score 100 points. If not, read clue #2.

COFFEEANDMILK/GETTY IMAGES

MAKEUP ARTIST

MAKEUP ARTIST

Some of the faces around you may be sporting a compound containing the mystery element. It’s a common ingredient added to lipstick, foundation, eye shadow, and other cosmetics. Besides making these products smooth and silky so they apply easily to the skin, this lustrous pigment also refracts, or bends, light. That helps hide blemishes, discoloration, and fine lines.

Know the answer? Score 80 points. Still not sure? Go to the next clue.

Look at the faces around you. Some of them may be sporting a compound of the mystery element. It’s a common ingredient in lipstick, foundation, eye shadow, and other makeup. This glossy pigment makes these products smooth and silky, so they can be easily applied to skin. It also refracts, or bends, light. That helps hide blemishes, discoloration, and fine lines.

Know the answer? Score 80 points. Still not sure? Go to the next clue.

L ANCHELES/GETTY IMAGES

FOWL FRIEND

FOWL FRIEND

Fishing tackle, like hooks, lures, and weights, can contain lead (Pb), a toxic metal that is in the same period, or row, as the mystery element. If this fishing gear gets lost in rivers or lakes, it can harm wildlife. For example, waterbirds can die after accidentally swallowing lead sinkers along with the pebbles they ingest to grind food. To protect these feathered creatures, many anglers have switched to tackle made of other metals, such as the mystery element, which is nontoxic.

Figured it out? Score 60 points. Otherwise, keep trying!

Fishing tackle, like hooks, lures, and weights, can contain lead (Pb). This toxic metal and the mystery element are in the same period, or row. Lead fishing gear may get lost in rivers or lakes. Then it can harm wildlife. For example, waterbirds swallow pebbles to grind food. They may accidentally swallow lead sinkers along with them. Then the birds can die. To protect waterbirds, many fishers have switched to tackle made of nontoxic metals. One is the mystery element.

Figured it out? Score 60 points. If not, keep trying!

SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

PERFECT PRINT

PERFECT PRINT

Of all the elements on the periodic table, only the mystery element and antimony (Sb)—found in the same group, or column—expand when turning from a liquid into a solid. Because of this strange behavior, an alloy (metal mixture) containing the mystery element is poured into molds to make metal letters, or type, used in printing presses. As the alloy solidifies, it spreads out to fill the corners of the mold, so the finished type will produce sharp, clear letters on paper.

Got it? Score 40 points. Need more help? Try the last clue.

The mystery element and antimony (Sb) are found in the same group, or column. They’re the only elements that expand when turning from liquid to solid. Because of this strange behavior, an alloy containing the mystery element is used in printing presses. This metal mixture is poured into molds to make metal letters, or type. The alloy solidifies and spreads out to fill the corners of the mold. That way, the finished type will produce sharp, clear letters on paper.

Got it? Score 40 points. Need more help? Try the last clue.

CAROLYN FRANKS/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

STOMACH SOOTHER

STOMACH SOOTHER

If you have a stomach ache, you might take a spoonful of pink medicine containing the mystery element, which has 83 protons. A doctor developed this remedy in his home more than a century ago. It treats diarrhea, heartburn, indigestion, and nausea. “It’s a time-tested cure,” says Ram Mohan, a chemistry professor at Illinois Wesleyan University. But researchers aren’t exactly sure how it works. Some think it lines the stomach with a protective coating to prevent irritation from stomach acid.

Write your answer and score 20 points. Then go on.

Got a stomach ache? You might take a spoonful of pink medicine. It contains the mystery element, which has 83 protons. A doctor developed this treatment in his home more than a century ago. It treats diarrhea, heartburn, indigestion, and nausea. “It’s a time-tested cure,” says Ram Mohan. He’s a chemistry professor at Illinois Wesleyan University. How does it work? Researchers aren’t sure. Some think it lines the stomach with a protective coating. That may prevent damage from stomach acid.

Write your answer and score 20 points. Then go on.

PERIODIC TABLE

The periodic table is a systematic way to organize Earth’s elements—substances that each consist of only one kind of atom. Today, there are 118 known chemical elements.

Elements on the periodic table are arranged by their atomic numbers in ascending order. Hydrogen (H), for example, has an atomic number of 1 and is the lightest known natural element.

Scientists have created elements with atomic numbers greater than 92, but they don’t exist naturally.

The periodic table is a systematic way to organize Earth’s elements—substances that each consist of only one kind of atom. Today, there are 118 known chemical elements.

Elements on the periodic table are arranged by their atomic numbers in ascending order. Hydrogen (H), for example, has an atomic number of 1 and is the lightest known natural element.

Scientists have created elements with atomic numbers greater than 92, but they don’t exist naturally.

ANATOMY OF AN ELEMENT

ATOMIC NUMBER equals the number of protons (positively charged particles) in an atom’s nucleus, or center. Each element consists of atoms that all have the same number of protons, and so each has a unique atomic number. In a neutral atom, the number of protons and the number of electrons (negatively charged particles) are equal.

ATOMIC MASS is the average mass of the naturally occurring isotopes of an element. Isotopes are atoms of an element with the same number of protons but with different numbers of neutrons.

ATOMIC NUMBER equals the number of protons (positively charged particles) in an atom’s nucleus, or center. Each element consists of atoms that all have the same number of protons, and so each has a unique atomic number. In a neutral atom, the number of protons and the number of electrons (negatively charged particles) are equal.

ATOMIC MASS is the average mass of the naturally occurring isotopes of an element. Isotopes are atoms of an element with the same number of protons but with different numbers of neutrons.

ATOMIC STRUCTURE

Long ago, the mystery element was often misidentified as tin (Sn) or lead (Pb) because it shares similar physical properties.

Long ago, the mystery element was often misidentified as tin (Sn) or lead (Pb) because it shares similar physical properties.

SHOW WHAT YOU KNOW

Use the periodic table and what you learned about the mystery element to answer the following questions.


1. Which of the following is NOT a metal?

A. gold (Au)

B. antimony (Sb)

C. silicon (Si)

D. strontium (Sr)


2. In which group is antimony (Sb) located?

A. Group 1

B. Group 3

C. Group 9

D. Group 15


3. How many protons does lead (Pb) have?

A. 82 

B. 102

C. 84

D. 207.2


4. Which term describes a negatively charged particle?

A. neutron

B. proton

C. electron

D. nucleus


5. Which is the best definition of the word mineral?

A. a metal mixture

B. a naturally occurring solid

C. a mixture of two or more elements

D. an element that refracts light

SHOW WHAT YOU KNOW

Use the periodic table and what you learned about the mystery element to answer the following questions.


1. Which of the following is NOT a metal?

A. gold (Au)

B. antimony (Sb)

C. silicon (Si)

D. strontium (Sr)


2. In which group is antimony (Sb) located?

A. Group 1

B. Group 3

C. Group 9

D. Group 15


3. How many protons does lead (Pb) have?

A. 82 

B. 102

C. 84

D. 207.2


4. Which term describes a negatively charged particle?

A. neutron

B. proton

C. electron

D. nucleus


5. Which is the best definition of the word mineral?

A. a metal mixture

B. a naturally occurring solid

C. a mixture of two or more elements

D. an element that refracts light

Skills Sheets (2)
Skills Sheets (2)
Lesson Plan (1)