Friday, February 8, 2013

Element Face-Off

My son’s school sent home the following in his backpack the other day.

Kai had drawn it during break time.

Recently, Kai has had a renewed interest in the periodic table that he first learned two years ago. His current interest has been sparked by his recent accumulation of element flash cards when he does the online Thinkwell math program.

Kai enjoys the pictures on these flash cards, but I wondered whether he was learning any of the information on the back of the cards. Sure, he learned the symbols and atomic numbers for all of the elements from long ago, but did he know anything else about them.

On his last birthday, Kai received a Jeopardy-style quiz game from his grandmother. These days, he asks me to make up new questions based on the information from his flash cards. Then, with me playing the Alex Trebek role, he squares off against Mom.

Which element is named in honor of the German state of Hesse?

What acts as the positive half of many batteries?

Which alkali metal aids nerve function, allowing the brain to transmit information back to the muscles?

Which noble gas gives off a distinct reddish-orange glow?

Which element was named after the creator of the periodic table?

My wife is reluctant to play these games as she knows how it will go. Still, Kai really wanted her to play so he gave her a handicap – she could look at the flash cards to help answer the questions.

While that was generous of him, the outcome did not change. Kai won, 430 to 120.

We worry about Kai’s reading comprehension. But when it comes to learning facts on the back of flash cards, he seems to be doing okay.

The answers to the above questions, in order, are:
Hassium, Lithium, Potassium, Neon, Mendelevium

How did you do?

Extra points for every element you can identify on Kai's drawing, with bonus points for telling the reason behind each particular element picture.


  1. seems to be doing ok? hahaha...yeah, I'd say so!

    how did I do? Ummm...

    1. Well, he is good at memorizing facts of things he is interested in, but has work to do on comprehension skills.

      Betsy, so, you didn't get all the questions right? ;)

  2. Kai did very well...I only got 2 of the questions correct...and only 5 of the pictures (the pictures made sense...and helped me remember).

    One of the exercises that has really helped my son with his reading comprehension over the years has been a steady dose of AR books and the subsequent answering of questions on the particular book on the computer. He has steadily improved. With books which strike a particular interest to him...he does exceptionally well.

    1. Shiroi, you got more correct than I would have if I wasn't the one coming up with the questions. I thought Kai's pictures were clever (and they were all different than the pictures on the flash cards themselves).

      Thanks for the tip on the AR books. This is an area I want to work with Kai on so I will check this out and try to get him started on it soon.


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