52 GAMES WITH THE PERIODIC TABLE AND BEYOND
, F. Blasco2
, M. Solà1
, J. Poater3
, M. Duran1
1Universitat de Girona. Institut de Química Computacional i Catàlisi. Departament de Química (SPAIN)
2Departamento de Matemática Aplicada, Escuela Superior de Montes, Forestal y Medio Natural, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (SPAIN)
3Departament de Química Inorgànica i Orgànica & IQTCUB, Universitat de Barcelona & ICREA (SPAIN)
Year 2019 has been declared by UNESCO to be the International Year of the Periodic Table of the Elements. This is a great opportunity for Chemistry and Science to increase Public Awareness of the current issues the world faces as far as Chemistry is concerned. Within this Pubic Awareness, special attention should be done to students, from primary schools to university, though secondary school.
The Periodic Table itself is rather well known by the students, but in general its key properties are not well assessed:
(1) a sequential arrangement of atomic entities, with natural numbers 1 through 118 (as of 2019);
(2) a periodic repetition of properties, both physical (structure) and chemical (behaviour with respect to other atoms and molecules);
(3) a similar behavior among columns.
The Periodic Table has a property that makes it different from other arrangements: besides containing elements labelled 1 through 118, there is a biunivocal correspondence between a natural number and a chemical symbol (and its name, indeed). Further, chemical symbols bear one or two letters. This allows for plenty of ideas to use in games and play. This fascinating collection of natural numbers/symbols allows thus to adapt classical games and to create new ones. We are involved in building up a collection of 52 games using the Periodic Table,1 which allows not only to foster the public awareness of the Table, but also to teach and learn about its properties, and eventually chemistry.
Furthermore, the fact that the Periodic Table contains ca. two poker playing card sets (52 cards each), or that a year contains ca. three Periodic Tables, is exploited in the games we have been creating in the below website. Thus, the different games are not addressed to chemistry, but to mathematic.
In our team, we have been working in how to explain abstract concepts in a very planar way. The project #52JocsTP is an example, but there are other concepts related to chemistry (quantum chemistry) which are really difficult to make them understand. Thus, besides those games with the Periodic Table, we will introduce analogies and other games using playing cards to explain in a plain way difficult, complex concepts in Chemistry and Physics: entropy, quantum mechanics (superposition principle, tunneling effect, Einstein-Podalski-Rosen entangled pairs, Quantum Cryptography, etc.), Entropy, Aromaticity, Electron Density - and indeed the Chemical Bond.
These games, analogies, and other activities related to Science Communication are part of two initiatives: the project on Low-Cost Communication of Research (#clowcore), and the project on Magic and Science (#magsci). Both projects are not only related to Science Communcation, but they also can help to introduce abstract concepts in primary, secondary and also university students.
 52 games with the Periodic Table, https://52gamespt.wordpress.com (accessed 25 July 2019)