The Story of The Periodic Table: Unit 1- Atoms Reacting

The Story of The Periodic Table: Unit 1- Atoms Reacting


Schedule: This is a Self-Paced Course
Grade Span: 6th, 7th and 8th grade


  • About This Course

    Today, we know atoms literally make up everything. And we know these atoms combine in countless ways and that this process can be beautiful, surprising, and explosive. The big question in this unit is “What happens to atoms in a chemical reaction?”


    In the late 1600’s, Galilee Galileo and Isaac Newton established an incredibly robust quantitative foundation for all of physics, which provided a scientific framework for not just explaining, but also for predicting the movement of everything from a marble to a planet! No small achievement, indeed! 


    Thereafter, chemists searched desperately for a way to add a mathematical framework to their science. They were feeling a bit insecure about their work, in light of the major headway achieved by their physicist friends! 


    Chemistry is not the study of how matter moves about the universe. That is physics. With a clock and a ruler, there was a way to measure and track movement. 


    Chemistry is the study of the composition of matter and how it interacts with itself. The one thing chemists thought to measure was mass. Tracking the mass change in chemical reactions was the key starting point both for understanding chemical composition and for predicting how chemicals will react. 


    And this is where we start - measuring the mass of chemicals before and after reactions. Amazingly, this provides an easy mathematical framework probing what atoms actually do inside every chemical reaction



    • Solving for one unknown in an algebraic equation (ideally, students should have taken or be currently taking pre-algebra or algebra)
    • Graphing Skills: determine scale for coordinate axes, properly drawing and labeling axes
    • Familiarity with the Scientific Method and simple experimental design,
    • Ability to collect and record their own data
    • Basic knowledge of or exposure to general chemistry is recommended (e.g. structure of atoms, types of molecular bonds, polarity, acids and bases, and converting between grams and moles)
  • How a Self-Paced Course Works

    Each lab follows the same format:

    • Students are presented with a challenge
    • Students view a pre-recorded instructor-led dem video  
    • Students conduct an at-home (hands-on and offline) lab project
    • Students engage in interactive group discussions
    • Students solve the challenge


    In addition, students can access weekly QC Learning Extensions (a set of videos and readings that reinforce topics discussed in class), and students will have the opportunity to complete an assigned problem set designed to deepen an intuitive understanding of the topics and demonstrate their knowledge. 


    There are 6 Units spanning an academic year. Each Unit consists of 9 or 10 labs. At the end of each unit, students have the opportunity to use their newly discovered mathematical and scientific knowledge to solve a problem of their choosing. 


    QC’s challenge-based approach to science and math connects kids to our amazing earth, teaches them intuitive understanding, and encourages them to think logically and compassionately.