27 Jul 2016

Symbolize It All

In-Class Activity

Submitted by Fabiola Barrios Landeros, Yeshiva University
Course Level: 
Topics Covered: 

This is an HTML program that helps you spell with symbols of chemical elements for anything you want. Just cut and paste the text, paragraph or list of names you would like to "symbolize" in the left field. The program automatically displays the words that could be spelled with chemical symbols in the right field. When a word has more than one possible spelling, all of the possible combinations are displayed on a single line.

The program is compatible with most web browsers and it is simple to use. Just download the file and click to open. It will automatically open in your default browser. 

NOTE: The creative commons license applies to this specific LO. The Copyright and License from the author of the HTML program is described in the file. I obtained this file from the author with verbal permision to post and distribute it on ionicviper.org.  
HTML icon symbolize.html4.96 KB
Learning Goals: 

Students will review names and symbols of the elements in the periodic table.

Student and instructor will get acquainted and learn the names of some of their classmates. 

Instructor will break the ice with an educational and friendly competition.


Equipment needs: 

Large periodic table in your classroom or an image projected from your computer. 

Instructor should "translate" the class roster into chemical symbols ahead of time and bring the print out of the answer key to class. 

Board to write the answers. 

Square post-it notes and markers (optional).

Implementation Notes: 
The activity will engage students with the periodic table, break the ice and help the instructor remember the names of some students. This could be used on the first day of an intro chem class. 
Challenge students to try to spell their first name and/or last name using only symbols of chemical elements.
Make sure there is a large periodic table in your classroom, otherwise project an image from your computer. 
Once they find a spelling, they can write it on the board or spell their names using square post-it notes and markers to decorate the wall.  
Set up a contest and give a small price (like a periodic table) for the one that used the most elements, or the one that could spell his/her name AND last name, the one that adds up the highest atomic numbers, the one with two alternative spellings, etc. 
Instructors should "translate" the class roster into chemical symbols ahead of time and bring the print out of the answer key to class. In this way, the instructor can tell which names are missing and challenge students to keep trying. Don't forget to include also the names of TAs'and your own name to participate.
Students need about 5 minutes to explore the periodic table and find a "symbolized" spelling of their names and a couple of minutes to post the answers where everyone can see them. Instructor can then check the names that are missing (give them a hint) and give extra 3 minutes to try again.

This program can have a diverse list of applications. You wil find it very useful whether you are breaking the ice on the first day of classes, writing a novel only using chemical symbols or choosing a chemical baby name.

TRIVIA: Did you know? Using the data from the US Census, 12% of all girls names and 16% of all boys names can be spelled with element symbols.

And the winning names with the most spellings are:

For girl, Ninasimone: ['NINAsIMoNe', 'NINaSIMoNe', 'NINaSiMoNe', 'NInAsIMoNe', 'NiNAsIMoNe', 'NiNaSIMoNe', 'NiNaSiMoNe']

For boy, Kostandinos: ['KOSTaNdINOS', 'KOSTaNdINOs', 'KOSTaNdINoS', 'KOSTaNdInOS', 'KOSTaNdInOs', 'KOsTaNdINOS', 'KOsTaNdINOs', 'KOsTaNdINoS', 'KOsTaNdInOS', 'KOsTaNdInOs']




Time Required: 
This exercise can be used as a 15 min ice breaker for the first day of intro chem.
Evaluation Methods: 

This activity was tried as a stretch break during a summer program for a group of about 25 high school students at Columbia Univesity. 

Evaluation Results: 

All students jumped in the activity. They worked mostly individually to explore the possible spellings of their names or last names.

Once done, they spelled the names with symbols on post-it notes and pasted them on the side wall. This classroom was used exclusively for a summer program, so students left up their post its as decorations during the following weeks.

Since I had the answer key with the "symbolized" roster, I pointed out the names that were missing and gave them hints and a couple extra minutes to complete the task.

About one third of the class was able to "symbolize" their first name or last name.

We declared as winners the student that used the most symbols and the student that had three different ways to spell her last name. They won a small periodic table poster.

The whole activity took 12-15 min. 

Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence

The VIPEr community supports respectful and voluntary sharing. Click here for a description of our default Creative Commons license.