As we all know, the TED brand is known for its thought-provoking and entertaining talks. But did you also know about TED-Ed? This branch of TED aims to create "lessons worth sharing". A recent discovery for us was their interactive periodic table, created in collaboration with a team from the University of Nottingham. As I saw quoted on Facebook...."it's addictive"....and it certainly is.
Whether or not chemistry is/was part of your schooling, you'll enjoy these videos. Each element has its own video a few minutes long and the team making the videos have made them fun, entertaining and hugely informative. You can tell they had a lot of fun making them. For example, I just learned that our voices get squeaky with helium because sound travels more quickly through helium than through air. I also learned just how many of the chemical elements are so rare - that even these chemists have never seen them in real life.
In the videos, there seems to be a fair amount of blowing things up or setting them on fire. In other words, visually appealing content that will appeal to all ages! The screenshot above shows just what I mean. The alkali metals in particular are worth checking out. This series of the periodic table is known for its reactivity with water. The further down the column you go, the more violent the reaction. As the metal reacts with the water it generates hydrogen gas, which ignites with the heat of the reaction. I still remember these experiments from my high school chemistry days, though adding sodium to water was as far as our teacher dared experiment with. Here we get to see the reaction of each metal, all the way down to caesium.
Take potassium for example. As one of the alkali metals it is highly reactive with oxygen and water. As we learn from the video, it can even extract the oxygen from paper. Yet it is also essential for our health. We need potassium in our blood to maintain healthy cells and conduct electrical charges in the body for muscle function among other things. Thankfully the potassium in our bodies doesn't react as it does in the video as it is tied up with other elements in chemical compounds, entirely changing their nature.
For teachers and other educators, there is a wealth of information beyond the videos. In depth facts and figures (linking to the Royal Society of Chemistry's periodic table), interactive questions and discussion forums make for a well rounded online learning environment. We highly recommend checking it out.