Tag Archives: Electron shell

The Table

As a parent, there are few joys like watching your child overcome with the awesomeness of a new (to them) discovery. Today’s discovery involved the teenager, his chemistry book and the periodic table of the elements.

As Michael did his assignment, the beauty of the table and its properties became evident to him today. In an atom, electrons are on “the outside.” The protons and neutrons being on the inside. The electrons going about exist in “shells.” The maximum number of electrons in the first shell is 2. In the second shell, the maximum number is 8. the third shell is 18 and the fourth is 32. What Michael discovered for himself today, is that the way the elements are arranged on the chart, if you were to subtract the atomic number of one element from the element immediately below it, you would get a number that equals one of the numbers in the electron shells. In other words, the answer is always going to be 2, 8, 18 or 32.

For example: If you subtract the atomic number of silver (Ag) which is 47 from the atomic number of the element immediately beneath it on the chart gold (Au) which is 79, you will get an answer of – wait for it – 32, the maximum number of electrons in the fourth shell. You will find this across the board. Michael is totally thrilled with the integrity, mathematical predictability and sheer evidence of intentionality about the makeup of the elements that are a part of our world. I love his excitement over this discovery. I love that he wanted to share it with me. I love being a mom.

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