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How was the periodic table developed and how

can it help us understand the reactions of

Flash notes: The early periodic table

The periodic table is a vital piece of information for all chemists; it has been
under development for over 200 years!

During the 19th century chemists discovered many new elements, as these
elements were discovered scientists were trying to find patterns in their
properties, these patterns would enable them to order the elements and
understand their chemistry better.

The first scientist to attempt this was John Dalton; Dalton ordered the elements
in order of their mass and how it changed when they reacted. He published this
work in 1808.

In 1868 John Newlands an English chemist expanded on Daltons ideas and

developed the law of octaves this suggested that the elements chemical
properties repeated every eighth element. This idea did not work for all elements
and was widely rejected.

In 1869 Mendeleev placed many elements out of order based on their accepted
atomic weights at the time. He then arranged them to form groups with similar
chemical properties. This allowed him to predict the existence and properties of
undiscovered elements which he called eka-aluminum, eka-boron, and eka-
silicon. The elements gallium, scandium and germanium were found later to fit
his predictions quite well. Mendeleev is regarded as the father of the periodic

Flash notes: The Modern periodic table

When Mendeleev created his periodic table he found that not all elements fitted
into groups of similar chemical reactivity when ordered according to atomic
mass; argon was grouped with the alkali metals and potassium was grouped with
the noble gasses.

At the start of the 20th century scientists explored the structure of the atom and
changed the order of the periodic table so that is in order of atomic number. This
puts every element in its correct place and their physical and chemical
properties show this.

Elements in the same group have the same number of electrons in their outer
shells this is why they react in similar ways. As you go down the groups the
number of energy levels increases this means that the atom gets bigger but this
also affects reactivity.

• Larger atoms further down the group lose electrons more easily so this
means that metals reactivity increases down the group.
This is because the positive pull of the nucleus is reduced or shielded by the
extra energy levels meaning negative electrons are lost more easily.

• Larger atoms further down the group gain electrons less easily so this
means that non-metals reactivity decreases down the group.

This is because the positive pull of the nucleus is reduced or shielded by the
extra energy levels meaning it is harder to attract negative electrons.

Flash notes: the alkali metals

The alkali metals are in group one of the periodic table

lithium (Li), sodium (Na), potassium (K), rubidium (Rb), caesium (Cs), and
francium (Fr).



They are very reactive metals, they are stored under oil to prevent them reacting
with water and oxygen, all the metals have very low density and float on water,
they can all conduct electricity and can be cut with a knife, the metals also have
low melting and boiling points compared to other metals.

The reactivity of the alkali metals increases as you go down the group due to the
increase in energy levels. This is due to the metals all having one electron in
their highest energy level. When they react they all lose this electron to form 1+

When the alkali metals react with water they release hydrogen gas

Alkali metal + water → Alkali metal hydroxide + hydrogen gas

With potassium as an example:

2K (s) + 2H2O (l) → 2KOH (aq) + H2 (g)

The alkali metals also react with vigorously with other non metals such as

sodium + chlorine  sodium chloride

2Na(s) + Cl2(g)  2NaCl(s)

Flash notes: The Halogens

The halogens are in group seven of the periodic table

fluorine, F; chlorine, Cl; bromine, Br; iodine, I; and astatine, At

All the halogens exist as diatomic molecules; this means there are two of
them joined together.

They all have seven electrons in their outer shell and their reactivity
decreases down the group.

The halogens are all poisonous non metals, they have low melting and boiling
points and do not conduct electricity, and they have very different appearances
and states.

Chlorine has a distinctive smell like swimming pools but a chemical test for
chlorine is that it will bleach damp litmus paper.

The halogens require one electron to achieve a stable electronic structure this
means that they will form covalent and ionic bonds with other atoms. The
halogens become less reactive as you go down the group due to the increased
number of energy levels.

We can observe the reactivity of the halogens by performing displacement

reactions between halogens and halide salts.

e.g. chlorine + potassium iodide  potassium chloride +

Cl2(g) + 2KI(aq)  2KCl(aq) + I2(s)

The more reactive halogen will displace or kick out the halide from the
compound and take its place. We can observe this reaction by looking at
the colour changes to see which halogen is present.

Flash notes: The transition elements

The transition elements contain most of the metallic elements that you
are aware of, copper, gold, iron and titanium to name a few the main
properties of the transition elements are;

• They all conduct electricity

• Most have high melting points
• Most have high densities
• They are good conductors of heat and electricity
• Most are strong and hard

The transition metals vary in reactivity but most of the transition metals
are quite unreactive with water and oxygen. One key fact about the
transition elements is that when they react they form coloured
compounds, make sure you know some examples. The coloured
compounds can be used to colour glazes in pottery, they are also
responsible for the colours in gem stones like ruby and sapphire.

The transition elements can have unfilled energy levels this means that
they can form ions with a different charge (the charge is shown in roman
numerals). It also explains why they are useful catalysts in many

If you look at the bottom of the periodic table you will see many strange
names for elements, these are elements that have been artificially made
in particle accelerators and laboratories. This costs many millions of
pounds what is your opinion on making new elements?