I never had any good chemistry teachers when I was in school. When I was in junior high even the book wasn’t attractive: a big book with a grey cover, with few illustrations and no colours, even the periodic table was grey! Years later I bought another chemistry book on my own, very colorful, with a nice cover and many illustrations. After that, chemistry and the periodic table started to be more interesting.
For me, the idea of a periodic table is more brilliant than the table itself, maybe because I like things organized and the logic of it is fascinating. I wasn’t very lucky with my teachers, or the first periodic table that I saw, but kids nowadays have many amusing places from where to learn.
For instance, this interactive periodic table, from Popsci has 93 element samples from the collection of PopSci contributing editor Theodore Gray, who spent four years assembling and photographing them. (via Make) You can’t have this interaction in a book, however you can have pictures that represent of each element and descriptions of them – that table can be order as a poster.
Another great example is The Visual Elements Periodic Table. That interactive has just images to represent the elements and the chemical data for individual elements can be obtained by following the data link from the web page belonging to that element. I felt in love for it, when I saw it for the first time. That site also has an article with a brief History of The Development of the Periodic Table.
And my last example of interactive table: The Wooden Periodic Table. Yes, wooden table is the name and the design of it, however it is interactive and the site is awesome. It has a large collection of chemical elements and examples of their applications, common and uncommon.There are 1074 samples, 119 elements, 103 minerals, 14 stories, 513 rotatable images, 269 smooth rotations, 57 videos, 56 sounds. It think it’s good enough to get the attention of any students, supposing that he or she is a normal one.
The web is full of good information about it. Among the tons of sites there are WebElements Periodic Table, a whole site just about it with tools, forums, news, blog and a shop for the enthusiasts, with a lot of cool stuff like chocolate T-shirt with the formula and structure of theobromine – it definitely goes to my wishlist.
There are other places that show it with time of discovery of elements. Sites with classic models that show pictures that represent each element after mouse-over, with options to download, very didactic sites for kids and sites with lists of periodic tables. And if you are looking for a any kind of periodic table, including those with specialized emphasis (Astronomy, Biological, Oceanographic, geological), historical interest, unusual designs and books, news, songs, softwares or projects about it, that is the right place.
Talking about unusual designs, there is 3D Periodic Table of the Elements, where the element names are continuously arranged on three circular surfaces representing the electron orbits of an atom. There are also the Extended Periodic Table of undiscovered elements: With each newly discovered element and with the advance of research and technology, the picture of the periodic table has grown into an important construct underlying all areas of science as well as the mathematics and informatics.
The Western Oregon University has a list of Alternative Periodic Tables, with a triangular form, a 3-D model, a spiral form and a physicists model, but unfortunately the external links are broken (at least for me). And The Periodic Spiral:
The Periodic Spiral | envisions a remedy to the flaws in conventional periodic tables by illustrating hydrogen’s ambiguous relationship to the noble gases and halogens while recognizing its relationship to the alkali metals; it also fully integrates the lanthanons and actinons into the design.[…]
While there are | many versions of the periodic table on the Web, the Periodic Spiral is the most comprehensive in its coverage of the elements and their interplay, and most efficient in enabling the user to access myriad informational categories with the click of a mouse.
But that’s not enough, there are also the alternative periodic tables, like this very cool Periodic Table of the Operators, by Mark Lentczner, based in Perl language; the Periodic Table of the Keys, from an old and now dead keyboard I suppose; and The Periodic Table of Comic Book that goes from Hydrogen to Lawrencium.
Food is also a great issue to be used to create new periodic tables. Some examples: those posters of Periodic Table of Desserts, Vegetables, Fruits and Nuts and a periodic table of storing produce. Or the Periodic table of candy that is perfect for kids – I would change the element 60, Sa Salt Water Taffy, for the Haribo‘s Saure Bohnen I’m eating right now. Or a Periodic Table of Dessert with the structures of some of them, like mousse and icecream. And, a very important one, Table of condiments that periodically go bad.
For those that like of some silly stuff, try Periodic Table Compliance, a generator of combinations of elements that fit to your name. And, of course, I can’t forget this, there is also the famous, and excellent book, nominated as the best science book ever: Il Sistema Periodico (The Periodic Table), by Primo Levi.