Periodic Party

Now that Valentine’s Day is over, it’s time to move on to the next celebration on the calendar.

That would be the Periodic Table’s Birthday!

Yes, Dmitri Mendeleev sketched his first draft of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements on February 17, 1869.

Notice that this year’s a “big one” for the Periodic Table — it’s 150 years old!

In fact, it’s such a big deal that the United Nations General Assembly and UNESCO have gone so far as to declare this the International Year of the Periodic Table (2019 IYPT).

Of course, unless you’re a chemist by trade, it’s fairly unlikely that you’ve heard about this.

That’s a shame, too — who knows where we would all be without the handy dandy thing.

So celebrate!

Here are some suggestions for how to do it…

First off, rather than singing Happy Birthday, you could try to sing Tom Lehrer’s The Elements. Here’s a video of Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame pulling it off in about a minute.

In case you’re not familiar with it, here’s Tom Lehrer’s original version and a link where you can learn more about the awesome guy.


Tom Lehrer at 90: a life of scientific satire (Andrew Robinson, Nature)

Here’s another fun song you could try to sing.

Lest you believe that caring about such things is for boring old, incredibly geeky grown-ups, here’s a segment from The Ellen Show where a 3-year old shows she knows her stuff.

Slightly older children might enjoy a tradition of reading Harry Helium and the Noble Gases Party (Good Reads).

For the more intellectually minded, you could hold a discussion about the alternative life stories of the Periodic Table. Here are some resources to get your started.
The periodic tables we almost had (Mark Lorch, Quartz)
Alternate Periodic Table Designs (Western Oregon University)
The Internet Database of Periodic Tables

Finally, if you do want to throw a party, Etsy’s got you covered.
Periodic Table Party (Etsy)

Here are more resources to help you celebrate…
The International Year of the Periodic Table (2019 IYPT)

An unelementary affair: 150 years of the periodic table (Robert P Crease, Physics World)
How the periodic table went from a sketch to an enduring masterpiece (Tom Siegfried, Science News)

Setting the table (Phillip Szuromi, Science Magazine)
Ordering the elements (Michael D. Gordin, Science Magazine)

The Periodic Table of Elements in Pictures and Words (Keith Enevoldsen, Elements.wlonk.com)
This Awesome Periodic Table Tells You How to Actually Use All Those Elements (BEC CREW, Science Alert)

Periodic Table of Elements (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry)
Interactive Periodic Table of Elements (Los Alamos National Laboratory)
Periodic Table (American Chemical Society)
WebElements

Find out more about the periodic table