The Periodic Table

There are around 100 different types of atoms which make up everything on Earth and the different types of atoms are called elements.

In the early 1800s, the elements on the periodic table were organised based on their relative atomic masses and their physical and chemical properties. This was carried out by the Russian chemist, Dmitri Mendeleev.

Mendeleev arranged elements with similar properties together. For example, placing iodine after tellurium as it had similar properties to the other elements in that group.

  • He also left gaps in the table for elements that had not yet been discovered. Once these elements were discovered, they were placed in their correct positions.

Let’s look at the basic structure of the periodic table of elements.

Elements are separated into metals and non-metals.

Metals are found on the left side of the periodic table and non-metals are found on the right side. The metals and non-metals are separated by the zig-zag line, which you can see in the periodic table below.

Groups and Periods

The columns in the periodic table are known as groups. Elements with similar properties are found in the same group. For example, elements in Group 1 generally share similar properties, such as melting points, boiling points and reactivity.

Also, the group number tells us how many electrons are in the outer shell. For example, the elements in group 1 all have one electron in their outer shell.

It is important to know the major groups in the periodic table:

  • Group 1 elements are called alkali metals – This does not include hydrogen, which is a non-metal, although it has similar properties to alkali metals)
  • Group 2 elements are called alkaline earth metals
  • Group 7 elements are called halogens
  • Group 8, otherwise known as group 0, are called noble gases
  • Elements in the central block of the periodic table are called transition metals

The rows of the periodic table are known as periods. As you move from left to right within a period, there are certain patterns. We can use the periodic table can be used to predict the reactivity and properties of elements.

The reactivity of elements in group 1 increases as you move down the group. For example, potassium is more reactive than lithium.