Elements in Space: Introduction to the Periodic Table

In order to introduce students to the Periodic Table, these are two alternative activities that can be used as part of a choice board, differentiated instruction or completely independently.

Students are introduced to an “alien” periodic table – the names of the elements are different, but the properties (of course) are all the same. In both activities, students construct the periodic table from the clues.

In the first activity, students read a narrative that establishes the background for discovering these elements; in the second activity, the same information is presented but in a shorter, more factual manner.

This was originally developed as part of an action research project about storytelling in the science classroom. Data from this project suggests that students learn the material better when contextualized as a narrative.

John Dutton has been teaching for 17 years, including two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique. John currently teaches computer science at MC2STEM High School, having recently joined the team after five years as a science and computer science teacher at Campus International High School, and a decade at Shaw High School. Prior to teaching, John spent 10 years in the computer and software industry. He believes that computer science education is critical to help all learners develop analytical and marketable skills for college, career, and beyond. In 2022, John was elected president of CSTA Ohio, which serves to develop a supportive knowledge-sharing network of computer science teachers statewide. John is a member of the Moreland Neighborhood Network, and co-produces the Witness to History program, recording life stories of longtime Moreland residents. John is a year-round bicycle commuter, and has brought that experience into his classroom with a bike-building engineering project for his students.