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

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


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!

  • Prerequisites

    • Solving for one unknown in an algebraic equation. Ideally, students should have taken or be currently enrolled in pre-algebra or algebra. 
    • Proficiency with graphing. Students can determine a scale for coordinate axes and properly draw and label axes.

    • Familiarity with the scientific method and the ability to design simple experiments.

    • Ability to collect and record data.

    • Ability to maintain an orderly and safe space for small lab experiments. Small amounts of acids are used and small combustion reactions occur, which require careful and patient attention.

  • How a Self-Paced Course Works

    Students advance through a series of really interesting labs. Each lab goes like this:


    • Kid takes materials out of a box 

    • Kid watches a 3-minute video

    • Kid runs a 10-30-minute lab. (Kid is pumped up!)

    • Kid does a lab write-up and a little problem set for quick feedback 

    • Kid notches a win, has brand new knowledge, and moves to the next lab! 


    In addition, there are bonus videos and readings and even a problem set designed to deepen an intuitive understanding of the topics.