An Alien Periodic Table
Problem: How can we correctly assemble a periodic table using physical and
chemical properties data?
Materials Needed: Blank periodic table
List of elements’ characteristics
Pencil with eraser
Background Information: The Earth’s scientists have announced that they have
made radio contact with intelligent life on a distant planet. One of this alien planet’s
languages has been translated and scientific information has begun to be exchanged.
Interestingly, the planet is composed of the same elements as Earth. Unfortunately,
the inhabitants of the planet have completely different names and symbols for our
mutual elements. Their periodic table only consists of the “A” group of elements, or
families 1, 2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, & 18. Since these highly sophisticated alien scientists
do not know the names of our elements, they have relayed the following data on the
known properties of the elements to our student scientists here on Earth to decifer:
1. The inert gases are Bombal (Bo), Wobble (Wo), Jeptum (J), and Logon (L).
Bombal is a noble gas, but does not have 8 valence electrons. The outermost
energy level of Logon is also its second energy level. Of these noble gases,
Wobble has the greatest atomic mass.
2. The alkali metals are Xtalt (X), Byyou (By), Chow (Ch), and Quackzil (Q). Of
these metals, Chow has the least atomic mass. Quackzil is in the same period as
3. The halogen elements are Apstsrom (A), Vulcania (V), and Kratt (Kt).
Vulcania is in the same period as Quackzil and Wobble.
4. The metalloids are Ernst (E), Highho (Hi), Terriblum (T), and Sississ (Ss).
Sississ is the metalloid with the greatest atomic mass, while Ernst is the metalloid
with the least atomic mass. Highho and Terriblum are in group IV, or family 14.
T has more protons than Hi. The element Yazzer (Yz) is a metalloid by location,
but has properties that suggest it is a light metal.
5. The most metallic element on the planet is called Xtalt (X). The most
chemically reactive nonmetal on the planet is called Apstrom (A). The lightest
element on the planet is called Pfsst (Pf), and the heaviest element they call
Elrado (El). Elrado is also highly radioactive.
6. The chemical make-up of the alien planet’s oceans seems to be about the same
as the Earth’s oceans. When seawater is distilled, the liquid that is boiled off and
then condensed has been shown to have molecules consisting of two atoms of
Pfsst and one atom of Nuutye (Nu). The solid left behind after distillation
consists mainly of a crystal made up of the elements Byyou and Kratt (Kt).
7. The element they call Doggone (D) has only 4 protons in its nucleus.
8. Floxxit (Fx) is a black crystal and has 4 electrons in its outermost energy level.
Both Rhaatrap (R) and Doadeer (Do) are atoms with 4 energy levels. Note
that Rhaatrap is less metallic than Doadeer.
9. Magnificon (M), Goldy (G), and Sississ are all members of family number 5.
They report that Goldy’s diameter is also smaller than Magnificon’s.
10. Urrp (Up), Oz (Oz), and Nuutye all gain 2 electrons when bonding. Nuutye is
diatomic, and Oz has a lower atomic number than Urrp.
11. The element Anatom (An) tends to want to lose 3 electrons to become stable.
The elements Zapper (Z) and Pie (Pi) both want to lose 2 electrons. Pie loses
them from its fifth energy level, while Zapper loses them from its third level.
Procedure: Assemble your alien chemical symbol practice pieces onto your blank
periodic table. Once you have correctly assembled all chemical symbols according to
the above data, use your pencil to write each element’s alien chemical symbol and
name on the individual element tiles. Place ALL your practice pieces back into the
envelope and complete your lab write-up.
Explain your understanding:
1. How did you decide where to place the alien symbols?
2. How did your knowledge of OUR periodic table assist you?
3. If you didn’t have data for one of the element tiles, how could you predict the
characteristics of that element?
4. What is the alien chemical formula for salt? For water? For C12H22O11?