Element Symbol Quiz

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Students will be able to memorize 28 elements' names and symbols to assist in understanding chemical formulas.

Big Idea

It is essential that students recognize common element symbols to aid in their understanding of chemical formulas.

NGSS Background

This lesson is based on California's Middle School Integrated Model of NGSS.

NGSS Performance Expectation (PE): (MS-PS1-1) Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.

Science and Engineering Practice (SEP) 8: Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.

Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI): PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter - Substances are made from different types of atoms, which combine with one another in various ways. Atoms form molecules that range in size from two to thousands of atoms.

Crosscutting Concepts (CCC) 5: Matter and Energy.

This lesson requires students to memorize 28 elements' names and symbols. The real goal is to implant these symbols into their brains for eventual use in chemical formulas. Students can only successfully work with chemical formulas if they know the meaning of these symbols. Memorizing the symbols allows for future scientific conversations later. This lesson is designed to practice and improve my students' use of scientific vocabulary.

Student Prep

60 minutes

I provide my student with about two weeks notice about the Element Symbol Quiz Notice. Memorization is to be done at home, supplemented with activities in class to familiarize my students with the elements' names and symbols.

Some of the best games for learning the symbols is Element BINGO, Periodic Table Puzzle, and Periodic Table Videos. All three of these activities are available in lessons here on the BetterLesson website.

Included with this lesson are templates for making flash cards Element Symbol Quiz Flash Cards - BLANK. Each sheet contains 28 blank squares. I pass out one sheet per student and instruct them to write the elements' names on one side, cut out the squares, and write the elements' symbols on the other side. They can use these flash cards to study at home or quiz each other.


40 minutes

On the day of the quiz I pass out the quiz document Element Symbol Quiz Document and give them about 30 minutes to complete it. I quietly help out the students when they are stuck on a symbol (see Reflection - Help during quiz). When everyone is done we exchange papers and grade it in class.