A few months ago, the fifth graders started buzzing about the Periodic Table of Elements. They started singing Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements”, dropped words like atomic number, electrons, and Mendeleev into conversation, and generally became obsessed. For their amusement I started posting alternative periodic tables in my room. “Ye Olde Periodic Table” consisting of only Earth, Water, Air and Fire was a big hit, as was the “Periodic Table of Procrastination”, most of which the creator promised to fill in later.
Then one morning a boy popped into my room and declared “We really need to create a Periodic Table of TJ Elements.” I agreed wholeheartedly! After printing a blank copy of the Periodic Table and posting it on my board, the kids, in their spare time, would associate things from TJ with element symbols. F no longer stood for Fluorine, but instead represented fifth grade teacher Torey Fay; Mo’s day as a symbol for Molybdenum was done – it now stood for Math Olympiad.
Patterns quickly emerged – there were lots of teachers, plenty of school tools, big events, and more. For a few weeks we stalled, unable to come up with suitable references for the likes of Au, Zn, and Ce, but the creativity kicked in to gear and we soon had a finished product! It’s hanging in my room at the moment, so drop by if you’d like to take a closer look (or find out what we did about Au, Zn, and Ce!).