Inorganic chemistry and periodic table

The study of inorganic chemistry and the periodic table is a substantial section of the A level and is spread over the two years of the A level course. Although aspects of the topic can be approached from a conceptual point of view, there is a great deal of material in this section that has to be learned.

The first year of the course includes a study of the chemistry of Groups 2 and 7, and in some syllabuses, also Group 1. Trends in the properties of the elements are studied and also selected compounds. For example, in the solubility of sulphates of Group 2 as the group is descended. Where Group 1 is included it is often the case that the properties of similar compounds from each group are compared, for example in comparing the thermal stabilities of Group 1 and Group 2 nitrates.

Periodic trends in the physical properties of the elements as a period is traversed or a group descended is also considered. Typically this would include trends in first ionisation enthalpy (covered in atomic structure), melting points, atomic radius (and possibly also Ionic radius), and electronegativity.

Year two focuses almost exclusively on the chemistry of the transition elements. Typical properties of transition metals such as the existence of more than one oxidation state, formation of coloured compounds, complex formation, and catalytic properties are considered in some detail. Understanding of electronic configuration is extended to embrace transition elements and their ions.

Another substantial section covers the aqueous chemistry of transition metal ions. Again, there is an enormous amount of material here which simply has to be learned. There are patterns in the behaviour but much cannot be rationalised at this level.

Some syllabuses revisit periodicity, but in year two the focus is on the periodic trends seen in compounds of the elements as a period (typically period three) is traversed. A popular choice of exemplar is the trend in the oxides of the elements of period three in terms of their physical states at room temperature and their acid-base characteristics.

The first year resources are to be found at the beginning of the list followed by resources appropriate for second year studies.

Whilst this list provides a source of information and ideas for experimental work, it is important to note that recommendations can date very quickly. Do NOT follow suggestions which conflict with current advice from CLEAPSS, SSERC or other recent safety guides. eLibrary users are responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is consistent with current regulations related to Health and Safety and that they carry an appropriate risk assessment. Further information is provided in our Health and Safety guidance.’

Links and Resources

4. Trends in the Periodic Table

This resource, from the Royal Society of Chemistry's Starter for Ten collection, provides useful worksheets on periodic trends including melting point, ionisation enthalpy, atomic radius, and trends in Groups 2 and 7.The material could be useful to reinforce learning either in class or as homework exercises.

publication year
2000 - 2009

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Trends in Reactivity in the Periodic Table

This resource, which is targetted at gifted and talented students, gets students to think more deeply about trends in properties of group 1 and group 7 elements. This would be best attempted in small groups so that ideas can be exchanged and debated.

The resource includes student work sheets with instructions for the activity and teachers notes with model answers.

publication year
2000 - 2009

1 file

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Alkali Metals

This is a very short video sequence showing the reactions of the alkali metals from lithium to caesium with water. The video itself looks to be one that has been around for some time. However, it is clear and, although students may have seen it before, they rarely tire of seeing it again.

publication year
2010 to date

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The Periodic Table - Properties of Group 2 Elements

This resource describes a simple microscale investigation looking at trends in the properties (particularly solubilities) of Group 2 compounds.

The resource would perhaps be of most use once students have been introduced to trends in properties of Group 2 compounds, when this activity will reinforce their understanding of the theory that they have learned.

The resource includes student work sheets with instructions for the activity and teachers notes with model answers.

publication year
2000 - 2009

1 file

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The Periodic Table - Solubility of Sulphates and Carbonates of Groups 1 and 2

This is another microscale experiment investigating the trend in solubilities of the sulphates and carbonates of Groups 1 and 2. In this particular case it would be most useful as an investigation to allow students to discover the trends before any theoretical discussion has taken place.

The resource includes student worksheets with instructions for the activity and teachers' notes with a discussion of the results expected.

publication year
2000 - 2009

1 file

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Unit I2: The Halogens

This comprehensive resource provides much detailed background material on Group 7 elements and their compounds. The resource would be useful for teachers when planning lessons, but also many of the exercises, with a few dated exceptions, are still useful and pertinent to current syllabuses and can be scanned or retyped and edited to provide class or homework material. An invaluable resource for planning, and for setting example problems to support teaching and learning.

Experiment three on page 22 outlines the classic investigation of the relative oxidising strength of halogens by reaction of the halogen with halides.

publication year
1980 - 1989

1 file

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The Periodic Table - Changes Down the Group 7 Elements

This simple microscale experiment looks at trends in the solubilities of silver, lithium and calcium halides, and links to the tests used to identify halides in qualitative analysis.

The resource includes student worksheets with instructions for the activity and teachers' notes with a discussion of the results expected.

publication year
2000 - 2009

1 file

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Chemistry Captured: Video Materials for Teachers of Chemistry

This is an interesting collection of 43 video sequences related to the properties and reactions of the halogens and includes a number of experiments which could not be safely carried out in a school laboratory, such as the production of chlorine in the solid state. Many of the clips could be used to enrich lessons on Group 7 and/or periodic trends of the halides of period 3 (year two material). 

The clips are mainly high quality but with so many teachers would need to browse the resource to find relevant material before using in class.

A read me file is included to make this task simpler.

publication year
2010 to date

2 files

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Unit I5: Transition Elements

This comprehensive resource provides much detailed background material on transition elements, their properties and their compounds.

There are a number of tried and tested experiments included in the resource to exemplify the properties and characteristics of transition metal chemistry discussed in the course, each with detailed student instructions for carrying out the practical.

The resource would be useful for teachers when planning lessons, but also many of the exercises, with a few dated exceptions, are still useful and pertinent to current syllabuses and can be scanned or retyped and edited to provide class or homework material. An invaluable resource for planning, and for setting example problems to support teaching and learning.

This resource is the first of those included to support teaching in year two of the A level course.

publication year
1980 - 1989

1 file

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Properties of the Transition Metals and their Compounds

This resource is a nice introduction to the transition metals and their properties.  It also  includes a simple investigation of the physical properties, including magnetic properties of a selection of elements, as well as covering coloured compounds and complex formation.

It would provide an interesting but gentle introduction to a module on transition elements prior to a more in depth discussion of typical propeties of transition elements (as outlined in the introduction to this list).

publication year
2000 - 2009

1 file

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2

The Oxidation States of Vanadium

This resource describes a demonstration of the several oxidation states of vanadium with their different colours and is a very impressive cascade of colour.

Essentially the same experiment is described in Experiment one, page ten of the earlier resource Unit I5: Transition Elements if a class practical is preferred to a demonstration.

publication year
2000 - 2009

1 file

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Reactions of Transition Elements

In this microscale experiment solutions of the ions of copper, nickel, cobalt and magnesium are reacted with ammonia and hydroxide ions respectively. The results of the transition elements is contrasted with that of magnesium. The resource is essentially an illustration of two properties of transition elements: formation of coloured ions and complex formation.

The resource includes student worksheets with instructions for the activity and teachers' notes with a discussion of the results expected.

publication year
2000 - 2009

1 file

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Cobalt Complexes

This resource outlines a problem solving activity on transition metal complexes, and gives students an oppotunity to apply some of the theory that they have been learning.

As presented the problem is very open ended and is devised as a small group activity. It would be suitable for more able students set as a completely unstructured and open question.

Its use can be broadened by some prior discussion or teacher input, or it could be carried out as a guided class activity.

The resource includes student worksheets with instructions for the activity and teachers' notes with solutions.

publication year
2000 - 2009

1 file

0

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Complexes of Nickel(II) with Ethylenediamine

This resource describes a demonstration involving the formation of complexes of nickel with the bidentate ligand 1,2-diaminoethane, and their subsequent decomposition. The two species are mixed in different beakers with ratios of 1:1, 1:2 and 1:3. The progressive ligand substitution of water by 1, 2 and 3 bidentate ligands respectively produces different colours.

There is a lot of interesting basic chemistry here and the demonstration naturally leads into a discussion of bidentate ligands, ligand substitution and the origin of colour in transition metal complexes.

publication year
2000 - 2009

1 file

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Catalysts

This Catalyst article includes information of the importance of transition metals in catalytic converters,

For experimental work on catalysts please see experiments six and seven in the resource Unit I5: transition elements which is included earlier in this list of resources.

publication year
2000 - 2009

1 file

0

0

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