Reflection: Backwards Planning Element Scavenger Hunts - Section 2: Investigation Preparation & Summary


There is no standard the specifically requires students to know the chemical symbols for common elements in the periodic table. However if students cannot make connections between the chemical symbols and the elements they represent then the understanding of molecules is not relevant. When students look at simple molecules, the elements that are represented must have some meaning. 

This lesson is a foundation piece needed for (MS-PS1-1 Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.) Students can make better sense of the molecules if they can attach a chemical name to an atomic symbol. Students will critically read through summaries of element name origins to discover patterns in naming conventions. (SP8 Obtaining Evaluating, and Communicating Information).

I am not a big fan of memorizing the elements. Memorizing takes the learning out of context making it difficult for long term retention of knowledge. The Element Scavenger Hunt and Puns homework assignment are a fun way for students to begin learning the chemical symbols by working with the elements. In the subsequent lessons for this unit (Decomposing Sucrose, Decomposing Copper Sulfate Pentahydrate and Decomposing Hydrogen Peroxide) students will break down the molecule as they understand the chemical equation. Continued exposure through practice will help students learn and retain the element symbols much longer than simply memorizing them.

Students need to be able to communicate their knowledge as scientists. Not knowing how to read the chemical symbols will hinder their ability to evaluate information containing chemical symbols or share accurately their findings using chemical symbols.

  Beginning with the End in Mind
  Backwards Planning: Beginning with the End in Mind
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Element Scavenger Hunts

Unit 4: Chemistry
Lesson 1 of 7

Objective: SWBAT make general observations about how the elements of the periodic table are named.

Big Idea: Do I have to memorize the elements of the periodic table?

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