The Periodic Table

The Periodic Table Photo Credit: Clipart.com


You probably have used the periodic table in your chemistry classes. But, do you know how it was first developed and how it has changed over the years? Use these resources to learn more about the key developments in the history of the periodic table.


First go to A Brief History of the Development of Periodic Table, where you will read about the key dates, facts, figures, and events that make up the periodic table's nearly 300 years of historical development.

As you go through this resource, look for information to help you complete the Periodic Table Timeline student sheet.

Now go to the Visual Elements: Development of the Periodic Table resource, which provides a more detailed history of the periodic table. As you go through this resource, you should answer these questions on the Development of the Periodic Table student sheet.

The Development of the Periodic Table: Introduction

  • In what sense did Mendeleev's periodic table follow "a natural plan"?
  • How does the periodic table classify elements today?
  • How was the work of Stanislao Cannizzaro significant in the development of the periodic table?

Alexandre-Emile Béguyer de Chancourtois

  • What was de Chancourtois trying to accomplish with his “Telluric Screw”? What was its limitation? 

John Newlands

  • How were Newland’s findings both similar to and different from Mendeleev’s?
  • What does the early criticism of Newland’s Law of Octaves tell you about the nature of the international scientific community?

Julius Lothar Meyer

  • How did Julius Lothar Meyer contribute to periodic development?

Dmitri Mendeleev

  • What is unique about Mendeleev’s personal history?
  • Why would Mendeleev (and other scientists) wish to arrange chemical elements in “a systematic way”? What was he (and others) ultimately trying to achieve and advance scientifically?
  • In what sense did Mendeleev discover “a fundamental pattern of nature”?
  • What was truly groundbreaking about his work and methods?
  • What is significant about the discovery of isotopes?
  • What kinds of difficulties and errors did Mendeleev encounter in his work?
  • In what sense was Mendeleev (like all scientists) limited scientifically by the period in which he lived? How did he try to surpass these limitations?

This esheet is a part of the The History of the Atom 3: The Periodic Table lesson.

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