The periodic table of elements contains the building blocks that make up the objects in our world. Water is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Carbon atoms are in all living things.
Once you’re familiar with the element key, layout and structure, it’s easy to read the periodic table.
The box containing each element’s information is known as the element key. Each key contains an element’s name, unique symbol, atomic weight and atomic number.
Oxygen, for example, has an atomic number of 8, an atomic weight of 15.996 and a unique symbol, “O.”
Each element is ordered by its atomic number, which is located in the top left corner of each element key. The atomic number corresponds to the number of protons located inside an element’s nucleus and the number of electrons surrounding the element’s nucleus.
Carbon’s atomic number is 6, which means it has six protons inside its nucleus and six electrons surrounding its nucleus.
The atomic mass is the number located at the bottom of an element key. This number is the average mass of the element’s isotopes, including all electrons, protons and neutrons. Isotopes have the same number of protons, but a different number of neutrons.
Scientists created elements 93 through 118 in a laboratory. These artificial elements don’t exist naturally and haven’t survived longer than several milliseconds at a time. The atomic weight of these elements is based on the element that survived longest when it was created, and can change based on future research.
Elements are grouped into columns based on their chemical properties. Each column is labeled with a Roman numeral, or in modern tables, with an Arabic numeral. This is the number of electrons an element has in its outer shell, which are known as valence electrons.
Valence electrons are the number of electrons an element has available to bond with other elements to make molecules.
Each element’s nucleus is surrounded by a shell which can only hold a certain number of electrons. Elements in the periodic table are broken out into rows based on the number of shells they have.
Neon is in the second row, or period, which means it has two shells. The first shell can only hold two electrons, while the second shell can hold up to eight electrons, for a total of 10.
To make it easier to read the periodic table, modern versions include color-coding which breaks out elements into their different groups, such as noble gases, metals, etc. Elements 57 through 71 and 89 through 103 are in separate rows because they are classified in different groups with different properties.
Using the guide above, you should be able to read the periodic table with ease.