Another way the periodic table is organized is through groups and periods. The groups are the vertical columns that go up and down on the table. The group number is also the same number of electrons in the outer shell. The periods are the horizontal columns on the table of elements. They determine the number of electron shells each element has. This way of organizing the periodic table combined with the atomic numbers and mass gives us the way the periodic table looks like now. Another interesting thing about the periodic table is that elements that are close together have similar properties. This is because of the way that the table is created. Elements that are close to each other have a similar number of electrons and shells which give them similar characteristics. Because of this, scientists have given names for the elements that behave alike. Some of these names are noble gases, alkali metals, halogens, and transition metals. Helium, neon, and argon are found in the noble gas section while scandium, titanium, and vanadium are found in the transition metals.
My favorite part of the table is the alkali earth metals. Some examples of these metals are calcium, magnesium, and strontium. These metals react vigorously with other common elements and create magnificent explosions of light and sound. Because of these beautiful fireworks they create, they are with no doubt my favorite part of the periodic table. My second favorite part of the periodic table is the noble gases, which includes neon and helium. Unlike the alkali earth metals, these elements are highly stable, which means that they barely react to anything at all. Argon is so unreactive that scientists named it from the Greek root word Argos, meaning slow and lazy.
Now let’s start from the first element calcium. You might hear your parents say, “Drink milk, you’ll get calcium for your bones and teeth.” They’re correct but when you have calcium in its pure and undiluted form, and especially when you have a large quantity of it, the calcium reacts with oxygen and burns in the air. This creates as a by-product calcium oxide and calcium nitride.
Calcium also reacts with water, but at a much slower rate. After the reaction, the calcium metal that’s left sinks. It also reacts with bromine, fluorine, chlorine, iodine, acids, and bases. For each one of these reactions, calcium produces a different by-product. Fortunately, instead of letting calcium blow up in your face, you can use it as an excuse to not drink milk.
The second element in the alkali metal series is magnesium. If you ignite magnesium on fire, it creates bright white flames and magnesium oxide. What’s different however with magnesium flames is that you can’t put it out with water. If you do so, it would create hydrogen gas and make the flame even worse. Also, you can’t put it out with carbon dioxide (flame extinguishers) because it would just provide more fuel. To properly extinguish a magnesium fire, you need a Class D fire extinguisher which uses sodium chloride or copper powder to smother the fire. However, magnesium isn’t an entirely bad element, because it’s needed in about 300 biochemical reactions necessary for survival.
Not only does magnesium bursts into flames, and keeps you alive, it accounts for 13 percent of the entire Earth’s mass. That means that we can create an entire planet the size