Mendeleev's Mysterious Castle

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SWBAT apply their knowledge of the periodic table to review physical properties of elements and predict simple chemical reactions.

Big Idea

What would you do if you were lost in Mendeleev's Castle? Students must work together to solve the mysteries from Mendeleev himself in order to return home safely!

Lesson Introduction: Visiting Castle Mendeleev

1 minutes

Hook - Mendeleev's Musical Introduction

5 minutes

Students will watch the video clip and record three interesting facts on their paper regarding Mendeleev's accomplishments.  If the class is feeling extra energetic, students may come to the front of the room to present their rendition of "Mendeleev" for their few minutes of Biology-fame!

Guided Practice - Lost in Mendeleev's Mysterious Castle

30 minutes

Students are given a copy of the Castle Mendeleev Handout, as well as the Student Answer Sheet.  As students read the worksheet, they are magically transported to Dmitri Mendeleev's castle in the year 1871.  This is a great opportunity for you to use your most haunted teacher-voice and read the introduction to set the tone for this heart-pounding adventure!

Mendeleev's Castle is set up so that each of the 18 rooms are composed of one of the first 18 elements of the periodic table, but keep in mind that they are not in numerical order!  The castle is also arranged so that the first floor represents the first period of the periodic table, the second floor represents the second period, and the same for the third period (the physical structure of the castle is not realistic, but the activity does a good job guiding students through the periodic table).  Students will record the clues for each room and the identification of the room's element on their Student Answer Sheet.

Students will utilize the periodic table of elements, their lecture notes from a prior lesson, and their supportive lab partner students to maneuver through each room of the castle as they attempt to escape Mendeleev's mystical spell and return safely back to the classroom! 

At the conclusion of the activity, students will review their responses with their neighbor to check for accuracy.  If time allows, the class will participate in a whole-group review of the correct solutions for each room.

 Student Collaboration In Action:



Sample #1 of Student Work - This student rushed to finish in the time she was provided in class and in doing so misidentified many of the elements and left a few questions blank.  A perfect example of why students need to hear the directions multiple times to ensure they have a clear understanding of the activity's expectations.

Sample #2 of Student Work - This student seemed to employ a different approach and correctly identified each of the elements/rooms he attempted but did not complete the assignment.  Another example of an alternative student strategy to complete their work and the constant reminder that students usually need more time than they are given for collaborative activities.

Please view the Reflection Section, "Where Does Time Go?" below for more details regarding this class activity!

Independent Practice - Elements Made Easy: A Final Review

10 minutes

Students will complete the Fill In the Atoms Worksheet to practice their utilization of the periodic table by calculating the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons.  The Answer Sheet is provided to review with the students.  

Sample of Student Work for the Fill In The Atoms Worksheet.  A brief analysis of the student work for this activity reveals that the a majority of the students are able to use the periodic table to determine the number of protons, neutrons, electrons, chemical symbol, and atomic mass.  The goal for the students was to master using the periodic table as a tool to determine these values and they have reached their objective.  The next step in our scaffolding of curriculum is to apply this knowledge in order to predict the type and number of chemical bonds each element will create most often.  This concept and much more will be found in the next lesson: Chemical Bonds.

Close - Lessons Learned From The Castle

10 minutes

As a final review the students will write down their 3-2-1 review of the periodic table:

  • What are three facts you learned about the periodic table and its elements?
  • What are two details/experiences that you found interesting?
  • What is one question you still have regarding the periodic table, the groups of elements, or valence electrons?

Students will have five minutes to record their responses and then share with their neighbor.  Student volunteers will have the opportunity to share their experiences with the class in a short whole-group review discussion.

Student Work for the 3-2-1 Periodic Table Review - After analyzing the student responses, I am confident that the students were engaged in today's activity and are working diligently toward mastering their use of the periodic table as a tool to conceptualize the elements and their chemical reactions.  Although most students seem to be dedicated to their studies, the class will need to work on how to apply the information found on the periodic table to identify unknown elements which will serve as a growth target for the future.

Students will complete their Independent Practice activity as homework.