Topic Guide: Chemistry

Chemsitry set from the Museum of the History of Science

Chemsitry set from the Museum of the History of Science

© Jack Shoulder

    • In this section, we’re covering chemistry topics including: matter and elements, the periodic table of elements, radioactivity, chemical reactions, Earth and atmosphere.

      Matter and elements

      'Matter' is a word scientists use to describe everything that you can physically touch. All matter is made up of molecules, which in turn are made from atoms. To give you an idea of what things look like at a molecular level, the Science Museum has a model of a penicillin molecule.

      The periodic table of elements

      The periodic table of elements was developed by a Russian scientist called Dmitri Mendeleev. You can find out more about him at the Science Museum.

      The Sterling Hill Mining Museum has a periodic table with samples of actual elements.  If you click the button, you can see the chemical symbols as well.


      Atoms sometimes emit radiation – we call this radioactivity, and it can tell scientists a lot about what is going on inside an atom. Marie Curie was a famous scientist who along with her husband, made a lot of discoveries about radiation. You can find out more about her life and work on the Science Museum website.

      Chemical reactions

      Chemical reactions describe the process of one set of chemicals transforming into another. The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago has a two minute video explaining what goes on during a chemical reaction.

      The Science Museum has a great activity on their website telling you how you to make your own bath fizzer and observe chemical reactions taking place in your bath.

      Earth and atmosphere

      The earth is made up of lots of different kinds of rocks. You can find out more about different kinds of rocks and take a quiz to test what you’ve learned with resources from Cliffe Castle.

      Volcanoes were important in the formation of the Earth. Find out more about different kinds of volcanoes by building your own volcano at the Natural History Museum’s site.

      The Earth is very old. How do we know this? Well, scientists use a process called carbon dating to find out how old things are. You can discover more on the Natural History Museum's website.
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