Printer Friendly

Name that element! Our popular mystery series returns!

Stop: Without this element, you'd be paralyzed. It helps move muscles and builds strong bones. It also forms gross soap scum in your shower. What is it? Grab a periodic table (next page) and follow these eight clues to find out. Then turn the page to test your chem IQ.

--Gretchen Hoffmann

CLUE 1

IT'S A BUST

In its pure state, it's the fifth-most-plentiful element in Earth's crust (layer of rock that forms Earth's outer surface). But this alkaline earth metal is more commonly found in compounds (two or more elements that are chemically combined). One common partnership is with carbonate ions (positively charged molecules made of one carbon and three oxygen atoms). This carbonate compound gets heated and squeezed deep underground to form marble, a rock used for statues and countertops.

GOT IT ALREADY? SCORE 100 POINTS. IF NOT, READ CLUE #2.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

CLUE 2

UNDER THE SEA

Many sea creatures use the carbonate form of the mystery element to build their exoskeletons (hard outer shells). "It's amazing how many marine animals rely on this element," says Daniel Brumbaugh, a marine biologist from the American Museum of Natural History. To create hard, protective coverings, corals, mollusks, algae, and sea sponges all suck in particles of the dissolved element floating around them.

NABBED THE ANSWER? SCORE 80 POINTS. STILL GUESSING? TAKE THE NEXT CLUE.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

CLUE 3

GLOW ON!

This element, a member of the beryllium family (group), glows when viewed under ultraviolet (UV) light, also known as "black-light." Certain rocks, in which the mystery element is combined with other elements like manganese or zinc, look like nothing special in natural sunlight. But when UV rays hit them, they glow red, yellow, or green.

GAME OVER ALREADY? SCORE 60 POINTS. STILL PLAYING? CHECK OUT CLUE #4.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

CLUE 4

CAVE DWELLER

This naturally existing element makes cool shapes on the ceilings and floors of caves. Dissolved in water, the mystery element drips into a cave, and then hardens as the water evaporates (changes from liquid to gas phase). The result: dangling stalactites and raised stalagmites These spiky formations grow at an average rate of about one cubic inch (about the size of a big gum ball) every 100 years. "It's considered good luck if you get dripped on in a cave--we call it a cave kiss," says Jeffrey DeGroff tour manager at New York's Howe Caverns.

NAME IT NOW, SCORE 40 POINTS.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

CLUE 5

PARALYZED

Your muscles couldn't move without this element. Your brain sends messages through your nerves to your muscles. This element works in both nerves and muscles to pass the signal along. When the element is released inside a nerve cell, the cell releases a chemical. The chemical triggers the mystery element to flood muscle cells and help them pull together, or contract. You're off and running!

HIT ON THE ANSWER? SCORE 20 POINTS. IF NOT, KEEP TRYING!

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

CLUE 6

The mystery element, which is found in the same period (row) as krypton, helps you stand up straight and chomp through meals. That's because it's a major part of all animals' bones and teeth. When ancient skeletons were buried, some became fossils. Why? A harder, more durable form of this element replaced the softer dissolvable form in the bones.

SCORE 10 POINTS IF YOU NAME THE ELEMENT WITH THE HELP OF SIX CLUES. STILL GUESSING? READ ON.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

CLUE 7

Ever notice a nasty ring around your bathtub? The highly reactive mystery element is partly to blame. That's because it's one of many elements dissolved in tap water. Water strips this element of two of its 20 electrons (negatively charged particles). This makes it ready to react with other chemicals--like the soap you lather with. It combines with the suds to form that gross, grimy layer of soap scum on your shower walls. Yuck!

GUESS THE ELEMENT? SCORE 5 POINTS. IF NOT, TRY YOUR LAST CLUE.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

CLUE 8

You already learned this element is important for building strong bones and teeth, so how do you get it? Through your diet. Dairy foods like milk, yogurt, and cheese are packed with this element. Other great sources include spinach, almonds, tofu, broccoli, and sesame seeds. So eat up!

STILL NO ANSWER? TURN TO PAGE 20.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

ANATOMY OF AN ELEMENT

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Key definitions:

ATOMIC NUMBER equals the number of protons (positively charged particles) in an atom's nucleus, or center. Every element contains a different number of protons, and hence has a unique atomic number.

ATOMIC MASS equals the number of protons plus the number of neutrons found in a single atom of an element. The weight of an atom resides in its I nucleus, which houses both protons and neutrons.

THE PERIODIC TABLE

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

IT'S YOUR CHOICE

Test your chemistry IQ! Answer the following questions about elements and the periodic table.

1. Name the mystery element!

2. When cerium (Ce) loses 2 electrons, it has the same number of electrons as

A barium (Be)

B argon (Ar)

C tellurium (Te)

D rubidium (Rb)

3. Which element is not a transition metal?

A zirconium (Zr)

B gallium (Ga)

C nickel (Ni)

D rhenium (Re)

4. Which element doesn't have an official name assigned to it?

A iridium (Ir)

B chromium (Cr)

C astatine (At)

D ununbium (Uub)

5. On the periodic table, the fourth period describes

A the column containing tin (Sn).

B the row containing tin (Sn).

C the row containing titanium (Ti).

D the element beryllium.

6. A single atom of lead (Pb) contains how many neutrons?

A 82

B 125

C 207

D 289

7. Which of the following dabs not describe the element krypton?

A contains 36 neutrons.

B noble gas.

C in the 4th period.

D sits near xenon on the periodic table.

8. True or False: No metals are naturally found in a liquid state.

Take It Further:

What other elements on the periodic table are important for a healthy body?

Did You Know?

* Though the Milky Way galaxy doesn't contain any milk, according to NASA, it has enough calcium floating between the stars to fortify trillions upon trillions of gallons of milk. That's because calcium and all other elements, except helium and hydrogen, are formed under extreme conditions on the surface of stars or when stars explode.

* Calcium is important for healthy bone development in animals. But it's also just as important to growing plants, which store the element in their stiff cell walls.

* According to the National Dairy Council, nearly 9 out of 10 teenage girls and 7 out of 10 teenage boys do not meet current calcium recommendations.

* When lime, or calcium oxide, is heated it gives off an intense, bluish-white light. In the early 19th century, lime was used in theaters to illuminate actors on stage, thus coming the term "in the limelight."

Cross-Curricular Connection:

Art: The National Dairy Council launched the "Got Milk?" advertisement campaign in which celebrities appear with a milk mustache to promote milk drinking. Design your own poster that promotes the element calcium in a different way. Be sure to include a snappy slogan!

Math: When a star explodes, calcium and other elements fly off into space. The total amount of calcium is equal to 0.0165 percent the mass of the original star.

a) If a typical star has a mass of 4.0 x 10^31 kg, how much calcium would it release?

b) How many 8-ounce glasses of milk Would this equal? Hint: One glass of milk (8 fluid oz. or 237 ml) contains approximately 300 mg of calcium.

Take it Further: Many different areas of science have developed their own periodic tables, which arrange the elements differently. For example, a geology periodic table lists elements according to Where they are found on Earth. Research one of these "new" periodic tables--how is it used and how is it arranged?

Resources

This CDC Web site is devoted to teaching girls about building healthy bones with calcium it includes quizzes, www.cdc.gov/powerfulbones/boneup/index.html

For a worksheet on finding and calculating the amount of calcium listed on a food label visit: www.cdc.gov/powerfulbones/stayingstrong/ labels_print.html

This Idaho State education site has a hands-on activity on calcium's role in stalactite and stalagmite formation in caves: imnh.isu.edu/digitalatlas/teach/lsnplns/stcstglp.htm

For links to several printable periodic tables, visit: www.sciencegeek.net/tables/tables.shtml

1. calcium 2. a 3. b 4. d 5.c 6. b 7. a 8. false
COPYRIGHT 2004 Scholastic, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Physical science: chemistry
Author:Hoffmann, Gretchen
Publication:Science World
Date:Jan 12, 2004
Words:1427
Previous Article:Advice for the love & struck: think dating and the flood of emotions that come with courtship are reserved for humans? Think again. Science World's...
Next Article:No-lab hands-on Science.
Topics:


Related Articles
Elemental upset.
New element monikers laid on the table.
Name that element!
Name that element!
It's your choice.
Name that element! which element on the periodic table makes ultra light tennis rackets, brews up decaf coffee, and is the most important element for...
Name that element! This element can be a real gem. It helps scientists see distant planets, and allows hang gliders to lift off. If you treat this...
Name that element! Which element on the periodic table helps play tricks with birthday candles, colors plants green, and soothes achy stomachs?...
Name that element!
Name that element!

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters