The Periodic Table Song: A Fun Way to Introduce Chemistry to Youngsters
High School Chemistry. I was breezing along through high school until I hit chemistry. Suddenly, my teacher shared a large, unwieldy table full of abbreviations and numbers that meant absolutely nothing to me. It was like a foreign language. I was doing equations based on the table and I had no idea why…
I struggled because I had no background knowledge to help me. My entire academic experience up to that point had been devoid of chemistry. I vowed not to let this happen to my own children.
In the book Overcoming Textbook Fatigue ReLeah Cossett Lent writes, “a person’s background knowledge, often called prior knowledge, is a collection of “abstracted residue” (Schallert, 2002, p. 557) that has been formed from all of life’s experiences…Background knowledge is an essential component in learning because it helps us make sense of new ideas and experiences.” Knowing that prior knowledge is critical for helping children understand new concepts, I set about finding a way to introduce chemistry to my own children.
When I read the book Creative Schools by Sir Ken Robinson (of Ted Talk fame) I was thrilled to discover the existence of AsapScience, a You Tube channel created by Canadian YouTubers Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown to make science appeal to teenagers in short, digestible videos. Each video asks a question that a teen might ask and then answers it with science.
The content of AsapScience is primarily geared for older students so be sure to preview it beforehand unless you are prepared to have a frank discussion about “Your Body During Sex” which I am not ready to have with my sons yet.
The Periodic Table Song
Not only is The Periodic Table Song catchy, but it also introduces the periodic table in a fun, palatable way. This song soon became a favorite in our house.
This summer I challenged my 7-year-old and myself to learn the first 20 elements of The Periodic Table Song. We played it after breakfast each morning and memorized one or two elements each day. I managed to memorize and retain about 16 of the elements and my son now sings the first 20. I swear I used to have a decent memory before I became a mom…
Simply memorizing facts and not applying them goes against my deep learning mantra, however my purpose with this challenge was simply to expose my son to the periodic table in a fun way at a young age. Hopefully, when he encounters the periodic table in high school he will be excited to work with something familiar.
The Periodic Table video relates several of the elements to common, every day items in the house. For example, Moffitt and Brown sing “sodium for salty times” while displaying a potato chip on the screen and they sing “fluorine for your pretty teeth” as they show a set of false teeth. Now my son is able to make connections between the elements, their abbreviations, and some things he is already familiar with from his world.
When we do fun, hands-on experiments I will now be able to link them back to the periodic table.
The Science Wars Song
My 4-year-old requests the Science Wars song regularly, primarily because the guy singing about math is dressed as Darth Vader, wields a ruler light saber, and sings his part to the tune of the Imperial March. My son is fascinated with Darth Vader so “math” is his favorite character from the song. If nothing else, I have given him a positive outlook on mathematics before he begins formal schooling 😉
I hope you find AsapScience as fun and useful as I have. Let me know if you have any engaging educational site recommendations.
Happy Science everyone!