What If Chemical Elements Were Superheroes?
Updated: Apr 28
Welcome to the Superheroes of Chemistry Series where we'll get curious about chemistry, superpowers, and how they can combine to catalyze our discovery and learning about science.
What if these chemical elements don’t just have properties, they have powers! Superheroes of Chemistry is an introduction to chemistry that transforms the Periodic Table of Elements into a universe of superheroes and villains. Each element on the Periodic Table gets a character description that doubles as a full detail of their chemical properties.
Here's a What? to Wow! and quick Curiosity Q&A to introduce how you'll use Curiosity Based Learning to discover more about chemistry, chemical elements, and how they connect with what makes you curious.
What? to Wow!
Answer each question with a single sentence.
What: What if every element was actually a super-tiny, superhero and their chemical properties were actually super powers they used against each other in an ongoing struggle of good versus evil?
Who: Who would you ask to learn more about these tiny, superheroes?
How?: How would you study science differently if you knew you were studying superheroes that make up our universe?
Where: If chemical elements were superheroes, where do you think they would go if they weren't spending their whole time struggling with each other to hold the universe together?
When: When would superhero chemical elements come in handy for humans?
Why: If our universe were being held together by microscopic superheroes struggling with each other, why would it be important, as humans, to better understand them and their struggles?
Huh?: How can you determine for certain chemical elements aren't superheroes?
Wow!: Whether they're superheroes or not, what makes the elements that make up our universe super?
* Your turn: Come up with eight new questions about chemistry!
Question: Chemical elements are described and organized on the Periodic Table, what if the most distinguishing details about you and those in your community were described and organized on a similar, two dimensional table?
Action: Create a single, square (like a profile picture) description of you that communicates up to five specific details that make you, you.
Keep in Mind: In addition to its name, it's a chemical's atomic number that sets it apart from the other elements; the atomic number is also the number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom. What would your number be and what would it communicate?
Deeper Learning: Roman poet and philosopher, Lucretius is credited with the quote: "Therefore there is not anything which returns to nothing, but all things return dissolved into their elements." Why do you think poets would be interested in chemistry?
Challenge: Now that you have a single, description of yourself, create similar ones for friends and family (you could also ask them to create their own to share with you) and then try to organize them into groups on a table similar to the Periodic Table of Elements. What shape is your table? What are the names of the groups you are using?
Curiosity Based Learning
What? to Wow!