Science Sampler: Deal me in—Using playing cards to model the periodic table of elementsby: Kenneth King

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Unfortunately, the terms “resource deprived” and “science teacher” are too often paired. Gaining access to inexpensive materials to teach with serves both teachers and students well, and simple materials do not necessarily produce simple lessons. In the science activity described here, playing cards serve as a tool to develop important habits of mind in learning science. By using the playing cards, students are able to model Mendeleev’s process for determining the properties of unknown elements in the periodic table.

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Reviews (4)
  • on Sat Aug 20, 2016 2:45 PM

This is a very comprehensive article. It includes relevant history, support, and the 5E cycle components of this activity. I initially thought it seemed a little easy, but having read the article a couple of times, I see that this is not an activity to sneeze at.

Barbara  (Kirkwood, NY)
Barbara (Kirkwood, NY)

  • on Tue May 28, 2013 10:15 AM

The strength of this article lies in the history of matter that it contains. This is excellent background knowledge for a teacher to have to help in discussions of the periodic table. The activity of filling in missing playing cards in a pattern simulates how the period table was created. this activity involves inference which is a good skill to have in science.

Betty Paulsell  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)

  • on Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:19 AM

Using playing cards that are easily accessible the activity described in the article uses a 5E model of instruction to demonstrate the arrangement of the atoms in the periodic table in an attempt to recreate what Mendeleev reasoned when putting together the elements. This activity is well documented and provides all aspects including background information. It looks to be a great activity for upper middle school to high school students.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:09 PM

While the playing card model can seem a bit abstract, I very much like the idea of introducing students to the thought processes by which this important tool was developed. The activity is presented using a classic 5E lesson plan format which has students discover for themselves the role of pattern or periodic nature of the periodic table.


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