Development of the periodic table


Before the discovery of protons, neutrons and electrons, scientists attempted to classify the elements by arranging them in order of their atomic weights.

The early periodic tables were incomplete and some elements were placed in inappropriate groups if the strict order of atomic weights was followed.

Mendeleev overcame some of the problems by leaving gaps for elements that he thought had not been discovered and in some places changed the order based on atomic weights.

Elements with properties predicted by Mendeleev were discovered and filled the gaps. Knowledge of isotopes made it possible to explain why the order based on atomic weights was not always correct.

Students should be able to describe these steps in the development of the periodic table.

WS 1.1 Understand how scientific methods and theories develop over time.

WS 1.6Recognise the importance of peer review of results and of communicating results to a range of audiences.