Case #1225: Christmas Cookie Mystery (Worksheet provided)
Christmas Chromatography - Deck the Halls With Science (Worksheet provided)
Adopt-An-Element - Internet project (Sites from the Kid Zone) (Worksheets provided)
Atoms Family (Worksheets provided)
Element Trading Cards - Internet project (Sites from the Kid Zone) (Worksheets provided)
Periodic Table Basics (Worksheets provided)
Bonding Basics (Worksheets provided)
Bond with a Classmate (Worksheets provided)
Balancing Act - Balancing Equations (Worksheets provided)
Chemical Reactions (Worksheets provided)
Playing with Polymers (Worksheets provided)
Amazing Marshmallows - Boyle's Law (Worksheet provided)
Bursting Balloons - Charles' Law (Worksheet provided)
Tasty Solution (Worksheet provided)
Messing With Mixtures (Worksheets provided)
Also check out ... Metric Mania - an assortment of lessons and links for the metric system!
Also available ... Lesson Plan Links for Chemistry - Links to my favorite online resources for lesson plans, activities, and worksheets.
Note For Teachers: Please take time to preview the links on any Internet assignment before you use it with your students. With the ever-changing nature of the Internet, links may be become broken or websites are no longer available. If you find a problem, please send me an e-mail.
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Case #1225: Case of the Christmas Cookie Mystery (T.Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Try this mystery powder unit with a cool holiday twist! For this lesson, students use their "investigative" powers to test six samples as well as mystery samples to help Mrs. Claus save Christmas. Complete details and student worksheets are available in the pdf version!
Lesson Worksheets: Cookie Mystery (pdf), Cookie Mystery Teacher Directions (pdf)
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Christmas Chromatography - Deck the Halls With Science(T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Explore chromatography with your students by making a string of "light bulbs!" Students cut light bulb shapes out of coffee filters or filter paper and use water-soluble markers, pipe cleaners, and water to create a colorful display. String the light bulbs on a piece of black yarn to decorate your hallway or classroom. I've also created a little tune to the "Deck the Halls" melody! Complete details, a copy of the song, and light bulb patterns are available in the download.
NOTE: I do my chemistry unit before Christmas vacation. You could adapt this idea to create Easter eggs, flowers, rainbows, or other objects depending on the time of year.
Lesson Worksheets: Deck the Halls (pdf)
Also check out Chemistry Carols for some great songs you can sing with your students!
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Adopt-An-Element - One of the favorite projects of the year! (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
For this project, students are required to research an element, create an advertisement, and complete an element fact sheet. They may use the Internet (see Chemistry Links at the Kid Zone), CD-ROM's, encyclopedias, science books, or other reference sources. The advertisements are used to create a large periodic table on a wall outside my classroom.
The advertisement must be colorful, neat, and contain the required information - atomic number, atomic mass, symbol, element's name, advertising slogan, and cost. Students must create a slogan that is related to the their element's uses. Pictures related to the advertising slogan must be included. Advertisements may be done on a computer or hand written/drawn.
The fact sheet must be neat, written in blue/black ink, and contain all the information requested. Students are required to provide a list of sources (at least three) on the back of the fact sheet.
NOTE: For pricing information, visit the Chemicool and Los Alamos sites! I have also listed other periodic table sites for this project on the Chemistry links page of the Kid Zone.
Worksheets: Adopt-An-Element Project (pdf) - includes all the worksheets for this lesson
Other ideas ...
Adopt-An-Element Baby Book - Check out this neat project idea contributed by Lisa Curry! Students "adopt" an element and create a baby book that details facts about the element and other information.
Adopt-An-Element Online- Thanks to Loyal Perry for sharing his students' Adopt-An-Element projects!
Check out "wearable" science projects at ScienceWear.net - Aprons, shirts, or labc oats with an elemental theme as well as options for astronomy, biology, and more! Thanks to Jody Hodges for developing this great project! Students use permanent markers or fabric paint to create their own "atomic" attire by coloring the lettering and adding diagrams of cells. Visit her webpage on Facebook for more details and pictures of completed projects!
Also challenge your students with:
Periodic Table Puns (pdf)
Periodic Table Puns 2 (pdf)
Periodic Table Puns - Answer Key (pdf)
Tips for Elements (pdf)
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Atoms Family (Lesson created by Kathleen Crawford, 1994)
I use this lesson to introduce the fifth graders in my school to the basics of atomic structure. The members of the Atoms Family correspond to protons, neutrons, and electrons to help students remember their charges and locations in an atom. In addition, students learn the basics of electron configuration with a tour of Matterville. At the end of the lesson, students sing the Atoms Family song to the tune of the Adams Family.
Atoms Family Worksheets (pdf) - Includes student worksheets and answer keys.
Atoms Family Atomic Math Challenge (pdf) - Students determine the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons for each element.
Also available ... Atoms Family PowerPoint - I developed this presentation to use when I teach the lesson to our fifth grade students. The students fill in the Atoms Family worksheet as we discuss the presentation and then practice singing the song. The last three slides are related to the Atomic Math Challenge that I use with the lesson.
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Element Trading Cards (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
I created this project for fifth grade students in my school. After completing the Atoms Family lesson and Atomic Math Challenge, students use their knowledge of the elements to create trading cards. Students are also challenged to find pictures that illustrate the various uses for the elements. The pdf download includes project directions as well as templates for the cards. The templates may be copied on cover stock or glued on 3" x 5" index cards. Our students create cards for 5 elements. The worksheet provided does not include such a requirement to allow you to modify the project to your classroom.
Lesson Worksheet: Element Trading Cards (pdf)
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Periodic Table Basics (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
I developed this lesson to build on the activity called Element Trading Cards (pdf) (see above) and allow my students to explore the periodic properties of the Periodic Table of Elements. Students complete fact cards on the first 18 elements. They use Internet sites or printed resources to find basic information (atomic number, atomic mass, and phase), melting and boiling points, physical and chemical properties, and common uses as well as draw Bohr diagrams and Lewis structures for each element. Students also color code the fact cards before cutting them apart and arranging according to atomic number. After students have created a "mini" periodic table on a large sheet of construction paper, they use the information they have collected to answer questions related to periods, families, and properties.
There are two versions available. Version 1 includes atomic number, atomic mass, number of subatomic particles, Bohr diagram, and Lewis Structure. Version 2 is the one I use with my 8th grade students and includes all of the items in Version 1 as well as phase (solid, liquid, gas), melting/boiling points, discovery information, properties, and common uses.
NOTE: I have listed periodic table sites for this project on the Chemistry links page of the Kid Zone.
Version 1 (Basic) - Periodic Table Basics 1 (pdf) (includes worksheet answer key) and Periodic Table Basics 1 cards (pdf) (Sample cards)
Also available ...
Periodic Table Basics (ppt)without answers for SmartBoard or Periodic Table Basics (ppt) with answers
Atomic Basics (pdf) - I use this worksheet before starting the Periodic Table Basics activity to review how to determine the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons as well as introduce Bohr diagrams and Lewis structures. A PowerPoint is also available for this lesson.
Atomic Changes (pdf) - What happens to an atom when you add or remove protons, electrons, or neutrons? Use this worksheet to explore the changes with your students.
Element Jeopardy (PPT)- A PowerPoint game that reviews element names/symbols, periodic table families, oxidation numbers, and common compounds.
Version 2 (Advanced) - Periodic Table Basics 2 (pdf) and Periodic Table Basics 2 cards (pdf)
Done with the lesson? Challenge your students with the Periodic Table Crossword Puzzle (pdf)
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Bonding Basics(Tracy Tomm & Lindsay Bogner, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
My students have difficulty visualizing ionic and covalent bonds. In order to better help them understand the transferring or sharing of electrons, my student teacher, Lindsay Bogner, and I developed this new version that involves the use of atomic headbands and ping pong balls. Students use the ping pong balls as electrons and we demonstrate how each type of bond forms by either transferring ping pong balls from one headband to the other or by sharing ping pong balls between two headbands.
Lesson Worksheets: Bonding Basics 2008 Teacher Information (pdf), Student Worksheet (pdf), Answer Key (pdf), and Element Labels (pdf) - Includes the directions for making the atomic headbands, lesson directions, student worksheets, answer keys, and element labels for the headbands
Also available ...
Bonding Basics Presentation (ppt) - I use this presentation on my SmartBoard as we complete the Bonding Basics lesson.
Bonding Basics Review Worksheet (pdf) - A student worksheet reviewing oxidation numbers as well as ionic and covalent bonding.
Bonding Basics Review Presentation (ppt) - This presentation goes with the review worksheet.
2010 Version - Don't have time or materials to make the headbands? Try this one! For this version, I've combined the 2002 and 2008 versions into one that uses candy pieces with the element labels from the headbands.
Lesson Worksheets: Bonding Basics 2010 Teacher Information & Student Worksheets (pdf)andElement Cards (pdf)
2002 Version - I used this lesson prior to developing the new version. Students used Fruity Pebbles (or other small candy or cereal) for electrons to learn more about the process of transferring electrons for ionic bonding or sharing of electrons for covalent bonding. The pdf download includes the student worksheets as well as an answer key and notes for teachers.
Student Worksheets: Bonding Basics -Ionic Bonds (pdf), Bonding Basics - Covalent Bonds (pdf), and Bonding Basics Practice Page (pdf)
Also available ... Candy Compounds (pdf) - For this lesson, students use gumdrops or jellybeans to model molecules and bond structures. Download includes teacher notes, student worksheet, and an answer key.
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Bond with a Classmate(Gail Sanders, Monroe Middle School, Wheaton, IL)
In this activity from Gail Sanders, a member of the MidLevel Science Teachers group in Northern Illinois, students are given a tag (or necklace) to wear with the symbol of an ion and its oxidation number. Positive ions are green and the negative ions are blue. The students are instructed to "bond" with other ions and keep a record of their bonds. Students had to work with their bonding partner to agree on and write a formula and name for the compound they formed. Once that was done, they could break the bond and find a different ion with which to bond. After 5 bonds, students switch tags with another student and start bonding again.
Lesson Worksheets: Bond with a Classmate Cards (pdf) and Bond with a Classmate worksheet (pdf)
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Balancing Act(T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
During this introductory lesson, students learn the concepts behind balancing chemical equations. I instruct my students to make a list of the atoms on each side of the equation to help them keep track of their progress. As they add coefficients, they increase the numbers for those atoms in their lists. The students can easily see if they have balanced each equation.
Balancing Act (pdf) - A basic worksheet introducing balancing equations. The download includes student worksheets, overhead key, and answer keys)
Balancing Equations Practice (pdf) - A new version of Balancing Act that includes questions about subscripts and coefficients. An answer key is provided.
Balancing Equations Challenge (pdf) - A worksheet to use after the Balancing Equations Practice to reinforce what the students have learned about balancing equations. An answer key is provided.
Balancing Equations Online (pdf) and Balancing Equations Online 2 (pdf) - Two different versions are available for this internet lesson about balancing equations. The sites for this worksheet are listed on the Chemistry links page of the Kid Zone.
Snowman Challenge Game - Challenge your students to a game of balancing equations! Print out the snowman cards and problems. Cut them apart and hide in your classroom. Have the kids work in pairs to find problems and solve them. Rules and directions are printed on the top of the student worksheet. I cross off the problems as they are solved to keep track of the number of problems that are still hidden as they play the game.
Student Worksheet - Snowman Challenge Worksheet & Answer Key (pdf)
Snowman Cards - Front of cards - Snowman Cards (pdf) and Back of cards - Snowman Card Problems (pdf)
Equation Challenge Game - An updated version of the Snowman Challenge Game, which includes new questions in addition to the equations from the original challenge for a total of 60 problems. I printed out the challenge cards and placed each one inside an Easter egg, which I hid in various locations around my classroom. I have the kids work in pairs to find problems and solve them. Rules and directions are printed on the top of the student worksheet.
Worksheets - Equation Challenge Worksheet (pdf), Equation Challenge Cards (pdf), and Equation Challenge Answer Key (pdf)
Want more equations to balance? Visit these links ...
• ChemBalancer*- Challenge your students to this interactive game about balancing equations. Visit the Fun Based Learning website for worksheets and other Chemistry games.
• GenChem - Balancing Equations Tutorial* - An excellent interactive lesson to use with your students! The site also provides online practice problems!
*= Indicates a link on the Chemistry links page of the Kid Zone.
Thanks to Kari Pate for sharing her "I Spy An Element" game, which was created after she used the Snowman Challenge. For this challenge, the students must find elements that match the clues on the various cards. She used pumpkins to decorate the back of her cards.
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Chemical Reactions(T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
My students have difficulty identify the different types of chemical reactions. I use this worksheet after we have already discussed balancing equations to explore the differences between synthesis, decomposition, single replacement, and double replacement reactions. Students watch a movie about chemical reactions and then use colored pencils to help them determine what happens during the reaction. Teacher notes have been provided along with the student worksheet and answer key.
Discovery Education subscribers: The video is available at their streaming site under the name "Physical Science Series: Chemical Reactions."
Student Worksheet (pdf) - Includes an answer key and teacher notes
Chemical Reactions (PPT) - Presentation for this lesson that can be used on a SmartBoard or other presentation device.
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Playing with Polymers(T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Explore the world of polymer chemistry with your students! My students loved learning about polymers and playing with their slime during a unit on petrochemicals. After the students make a batch of slime, they do a variety of tests and write their data/observations in a chart. After everyone has had a chance to test the slimes, I provide 3 samples of mystery slimes. The students do the tests with the mystery slimes to determine which ingredients were used to make each one. Download the recipes and teacher notes for more details!
Playing with Polymer Teacher Notes (pdf) - This download provides an overview of the unit, schedule, materials list, preparation directions, and tips for making the most of your slime time.
Polymer Unit Student Packet (pdf) - Includes the note worksheets, puzzle pages, data chart, and slime test descriptions. Students fill in the note worksheet using the information on the first few slides of the presentation and complete the data chart as they finish the slime experiments. I require students to complete the puzzle pages on their own time.
Playing with Polymers PPT - PowerPoint presentation that includes the information on the student note pages, link to the movie, and safety rules as well as directions for each of the slime tests on the recipe page listed below.
Playing with Polymer Recipe Card (pdf) - I print out enough recipe cards to provide 2 copies for each group of 4 students. If possible, laminate the cards to help them last from year to year.
Polymer Basics Internet Scavenger Hunt (pdf) - Uses sites on the Chemistry links page of the Kid Zone.
Visit the Hands-On Plastics website to order the free kit and view other great educational materials! The kit provides several different types of plastics and great lesson ideas that I used to integrate the world of plastics into the Playing with Polymers unit!
Want more information about slime? Visit these sites for information, recipes, and lesson ideas ...
Polymer Ambassadors - Explore their great ideas for incorporating polymers into your science curriculum.
Polymer Project - Information and recipes for a variety of slimes!
A Bag of Slime - Information about non-Newtonian fluids and recipes for slime.
JLab Obleck - A polymer version of Obleck with several ready-to-use worksheets to challenge your students.
Youth Online Slime - Visit this page for tips on making guar gum slime.
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Amazing Marshmallow's Lab (Boyle's Law)(T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
NOTE: A worksheet that combines Boyle's law and Charles' law is available - Gas Laws Lab (pdf)
Materials: Syringe & fresh small marshmallows
Procedure: To demonstrate Boyle’s Law, give students a syringe and 3 small marshmallows. Instruct them to place the marshmallows in the syringe and replace the plunger. Push the plunger as far down as possible without squashing the marshmallows. Place one finger on the end of the syringe and pull the plunger out to the end of the syringe. Observe the marshmallows. Students will notice that they get larger, or expand. As the plunger is pulled out, the volume of air inside the syringe increases causing a drop in pressure. This can be seen by the expansion of the marshmallow.
Next leave the plunger at the end of the syringe and place a finger on the other end. Push the plunger into the syringe and observe the marshmallows. Students will notice that they “shrink”. As the plunger is pushed into the syringe, the volume of air inside the syringe decreases, causing an increase in pressure. This can be seen by the compression, or shrinkage, of the marshmallows.
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Bursting Balloons (Charles' Law)- Best done on a cold day! (T. (Trimpe) Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Materials: Helium balloons (mylar type) & tissue paper strips
Procedure: To demonstrate Charles’ Law, obtain two helium balloons of about the same size. Cut tissue paper into strips and wrap tightly around each balloon. Place one balloon in a warm spot, such as in a car on a warm day or near a heater. Leave for several minutes. Students should be able to observe the balloon increasing in size (or volume). If you are lucky, the tissue paper will tear! As the temperature of the gas increases, the volume also increases as the gas expands. A good reason not to leave helium balloons inside a car on a hot day! Place the other balloon in a cold spot, outside on a winter day or in a freezer. Leave for several minutes. Students should be able to observe the tissue paper becoming loose on the balloon - it may even fall off or slide off easily. As the temperature of the gas decreases, the volume also decreases. Many places that sell helium balloons in the winter time will warn you that your balloons may shrink when they are in the cold, but will return to normal size once they are back at room temperature. Charles’ Law should help explain this phenomenon.
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Tasty Solution(T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
During a lesson on mixtures and solutions, my students compare the dissolving time of a piece of candy in various situations. Once completed, they use the data to create a graph and answer a few questions related to solutions.
Student Worksheet: Tasty Solution (pdf)
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Messing With Mixtures(T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
This lab project allows students to investigate the differences between mixtures, colloids, and solutions! Download the lesson worksheets and lab notes for more details.
NOTE: This lab includes the Tasty Solution lesson described above.
Lesson Worksheets: Messing With Mixtures Lab Worksheet (pdf) and Messing With Mixtures Lab Notes (pdf)
Extension Idea: Use sharpie markers and rubbing alcohol to make a cool tie-dye t-shirt project that would be a hit for any unit on solutions and mixtures! Visit the Steve Spangler tie-dye webpage and scroll down the page for the directions!
Introduce students to the periodic table.
Project the image Periodic Table.
Tell students that this is the periodic table. Explain that each box contains information about a different atom. The periodic table shows all the atoms that everything in the known universe is made from. It’s kind of like the alphabet in which only 26 letters, in different combinations, make up many thousands of words. The 100 or so atoms of the periodic table, in different combinations, make up millions of different substances.
Note: It is often confusing for students to see the terms “atom” and “element” used interchangeably as if they are the same thing. Explain to students that an atom is the smallest particle or “building block” of a substance. An element is a substance made up of all the same type of atom. For instance, a piece of pure carbon is made up of only carbon atoms. This piece of pure carbon is a sample of the element carbon. The people who developed the periodic table could have called it the Periodic Table of the Atoms but they did not have a firm understanding of atoms at that time. Since they were working with actual samples of elements such as copper, mercury, sulfur, etc., they called it the periodic table of the elements.
Play one or both of the following songs.
- The Elements by Tom Lehrer with animation by Mike Stanfill
- Meet the Elements by They Might be Giants
Explain the meaning of the numbers and letters in the boxes in the periodic table.
Tell students that the class will focus on the first 20 elements over 2 days. On the first day, they will look at the number of protons, electrons, and neutrons in the atoms of each element. On the second day, they will look at the arrangement of electrons in the atoms.
- Give each student a copy of the periodic table of the elements, the periodic table of elements 1–20, and the activity sheet.
- Students will use the periodic table of elements 1–20, along with the activity sheet, in the lesson they will do today.
Project the image Periodic Table of the First 20 Elements.
Project the image Element explanation.
Explain what the numbers and letters in each box on the periodic table represent.
Explain atomic mass.
The atomic mass of an element is based on the mass of the protons, neutrons, and electrons of the atoms of that element. The mass of the proton and neutron are about the same, but the mass of the electron is much smaller (about 1/2000 the mass of the proton or neutron). The majority of the atomic mass is contributed by the protons and neutrons.
For any element in the periodic table, the number of electrons in an atom of that element always equals the number of protons in the nucleus. But this is not true for neutrons. Atoms of the same element can have different numbers of neutrons than protons. Atoms of the same element with different numbers of neutrons are called isotopes of that element. The atomic mass in the periodic table is an average of the atomic mass of the isotopes of an element. For the atoms of the first 20 elements, the number of neutrons is either equal to or slightly greater than the number of protons.
For example, the vast majority of carbon atoms have 6 protons and 6 neutrons, but a small percentage have 6 protons and 7 neutrons, and an even smaller percentage have 6 protons and 8 neutrons. Since the majority of carbon atoms have a mass very close to 12, and only a small percentage are greater than 12, the average atomic mass is slightly greater than 12.
Describe the activity students will do to learn about the first 20 elements of the periodic table.
Show students that you have 100 cards (5 for each of the first 20 elements). Explain that each card contains information about one of the first 20 atoms of the periodic table. The students’ job is to read the card carefully, figure out which atom the card is describing, and put the card at the spot in the room for that atom.
Review the information about protons, electrons, and neutrons students need to know in order to match the cards with the correct element:
- Positively charged particle in the nucleus of the atom.
- The number of protons in an atom’s nucleus is the atomic number.
- Negatively charged particle surrounding the nucleus of the atom.
- The number of electrons surrounding the nucleus of an atom is equal to the number of protons in the atom’s nucleus.
- Particle in the nucleus that has almost the same mass as a proton but has no charge.
- For the atoms of the first 20 elements, the number of neutrons is either equal to or slightly greater than the number of protons.
To match the number of neutrons listed on your card to the correct element, look for an element on the periodic table so that if you add the number of neutrons on your card to the protons of the element, you will get close to the atomic mass for that element. For example, you may have a card that says that the atom you are looking for has 5 neutrons. You would look at the periodic table to find an atom that you could add 5 to its number of protons that would give you a sum close to the atomic mass given for that element. The answer is beryllium (Be), which has 4 protons and an atomic mass of 9.01.
Note: There are a few neutron cards that have two possible correct elements instead of just one:
- 6 Neutrons—Boron or Carbon
- 10 Neutrons—Fluorine or Neon
- 12 Neutrons—Sodium or Magnesium
- 16 Neutrons—Phosphorous or Sulfur
- 20 Neutrons—Potassium or Calcium
Have groups work together to place each card with its correct atom.
Distribute the cards to groups. If you have 10 groups, each group will get 10 cards. Be available to help students who have trouble with the neutrons and atomic mass.
Discuss the placement of the cards for two or three atoms.
Select two or three atoms and review whether the cards were placed correctly. This review will help reinforce the concepts about the structure of atoms and help students determine the number of protons, electrons, and neutrons in each type of atom.
Have students begin filling out the activity sheet with the following information:
- Number of protons
- Number of electrons
- Number of neutrons (usually)
Introduce students to their element project and an online resource that they can use.
Assign each student to an element. Include the first 20 elements and any other elements that you find interesting so that each student can research and present their own.
Each student should find and present some basic information about their element to the class. The presentation can be in the form of a poster, pamphlet, PowerPoint presentation or other form. The presentations should be short and can include: atom name, atomic number, derivation of name, when and where discovered, natural sources of the element, major uses, and any other information you find important.
Some Internet sources for this information can be overwhelming. They can also contain advertising that you may not want students exploring. For basic information about the periodic table, including some images and video, The Journal of Chemical Education’s Periodic Table Live is an excellent resource.
If there is time available, have students work on this atom project during the week.