Study Questions for The Mystery of the Periodic Table by Benjamin Wiker

Chapter 1:

What is an element? Discuss elements on earth.

Chapter 2:

Who might be called the first chemists? What did they discover and how?

Chapter 3:

Summarize Aristotle's theory of four elements and four simple bodies. Summarize the atomists' theory.

Chapter 4:

What did alchemists do?

Chapter 5:

What progress in scientific discovery did Johan van Helmont make? What flaws in method or knowledge kept Helmont from progressing further?

Chapter 6:

Robert Boyle helped chemists look for elements more fundamental than earth, air, fire and water. Boyle's work was very important, even though his theory was not perfect. In addition, he discovered the relationship between pressure and volume in a gas, known as Boyle's Law. Please explain Boyle's Law.

Chapter 7:

Johan Becher and Georg Stahl introduced a false theory which actually helped scientists make important discoveries. How can an error help us learn the truth?

Chapter 8:

Joseph Priestly discovered oxygen without realizing it. Explain.

Chapter 9:

Henry Cavendish discovered hydrogen (later named by Antoine Lavoisier). How?

Chapter 10:

What is the principle of conservation of mass? How did Antoine Lavoisier's understanding of this principle help him make important discoveries?

Chapter 11:

How did Lavoisier define what an element is?

Chapter 12:

Joseph Proust discovered the law of Definite Proportions. Please explain.

Chapter 13:

John Dalton was the first to discover the Law of Multiple Proportions. What is this law? This discovery led Dalton to assign weights to elements. Describe how he could do this without being able to put individual atoms on a scale. Johns Jakob Berzelius used different atomic symbols than John Dalton. Please describe the differences. Which method is closest to our modern system of representation?

Chapter 14:

Alessandro Volta discovered how to generate electric current with his "piles" or batteries. Describe how Humphry Davy used electric current to make some chemical discoveries. Why were Davy's results important?

Chapter 15:

Summarize Amadeo Avogadro's discovery.

Chapter 16:

Fold out the Periodic Table, or better yet, look at a separate Table (try printing webelements.com or chemicool.com) and compare it with your reading in this chapter. Note the triads and octaves.

Chapter 17:

Look at the Periodic table as you read about Dimitrii Mendeleev. How does our Periodic Table differ from his?

Chapter 18:

Ernest Rutherford's discovery about the structure of atoms helped change our depiction of the Periodic Table. What did he discover? What did Henry Mosely learn about the atom's structure? The vertical groups of the Periodic Table were discovered by Mendeleev because groups of elements had similar properties. These properties are a result of the electron structure of the element. Please describe how a nucleus is surrounded by patterns of electrons.

Carol Thelen and her husband Chris have been homeschooling their two (now) teen children for three years, with the help of God's grace, Laura Berquist's Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum, syllabi from Mother of Divine Grace School, and a host of generous homeschool families in their area and on the internet. "We are a military family and have lived in Japan, Korea, Italy, Illinois, Maryland, and New Mexico." Carol hopes her children will find Thomas Aquinas College to be a good fit when they graduate from homeschool. If not, she thinks she should study there herself & write them lots of envy-provoking letters.

Back to top