Cellular Chemistry

Contributor: Hannah Brooks. Lesson ID: 12126

Creation consists of zillions of unlike things, like stars, rocks, skin, water, and snakes. Yet they are all made from the same palette of elements in different combinations. Join us at the "table"!


Chemistry, Life Science

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Did you know that everything on Earth is made up of combinations of the same 118 elements?

What kinds of things do you already know about chemistry?

That chemicals explode or turn colors? Chemistry has a lot of different kinds of interactions, and you will learn about some of the basics today.

In this lesson, you will learn about the foundation of chemistry. As you go, there are some vocabulary words you will want to keep track of. Go ahead and make a vocabulary journal before you dive into the learning!

  1. Take a sheet of notebook paper and divide it in half longways.
  2. On the left, put the title, "Term," and on the right, put the title, "Meaning." This is how you will organize the information you learn throughout the lesson.
  3. If a word is underlined, record the term and meaning in your vocabulary journal.

Example vocabulary journal:

Term Meaning
elements 118 unique substances organized on the periodic table


Start at the beginning with the basics: elements. Currently (2017), there are 118 known elements, and they are organized on the periodic table:

These elements are each unique because they have a specific number of protons. Protons are very small atomic particles with a positive charge. Elements also have electrons, atomic particles with a negative charge, and neutrons, particles with no charge. Together, protons, electrons, and neutrons form atoms that are unique to each element. Everything on Earth is made of atoms and elements!

The periodic table is divided into three main groups: metals, nonmetals, and metalloids, based on the arrangement of protons, electrons, and neutrons.

periodic table metals

Image released by copyright holder into the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In the image above, provided by WikiMedia Commons, metals are shown with a blue color. Metals are usually solid at room temperature and are able to conduct electricity and heat. Think about what happens to a metal spoon left on a hot stove! Ouch! Metals are able to be manipulated — we can pull them into wire or hammer them into sheets like aluminum foil.

Nonmetals are shown in the image above in a yellow color. Nonmetals can be gases, liquids, or solids. Oxygen is a gas a room temperature, but phosphorus is solid. These elements do not conduct electricity and are a lot harder to manipulate. The atoms are usually farther apart, making it harder to change the shape or structure.

Metalloids are a special group, shown in pink. These elements have some characteristics of metals, but some of nonmetals. They can be any phase — solid, liquid, or gas — at room temperature. Depending on how it is developed, silicon can conduct electricity or insulate substances. They have a very wide range of uses!

Scientists use the periodic table for organizing elements and also identifying unknown substances based on characteristics and atomic structure.

  • Based on what you have learned, how do you think the periodic table and life science are related?
  • How are metals and nonmetals different?
  • Why do you think we use metals in many technological products?
  • What role do you think electrons play in the ability to conduct electricity?
  • Ready to practice chemistry basics?

Move to the Got It? section to review the terms from this lesson.

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