Discussion: Discovery of the Elements

In this activity, we are going to explore when and where certain elements were discovered (or where the first oldest sample was discovered, in the case of elements known in ancient times).  For each element, we will also explore various physical properties and what it is used for currently.

Graphic representation of the periodic table with black boxes for each element


  1. Choose one element with an atomic number between 1–57, or 72–86. You may not choose an element that someone else has chosen, so be sure to “claim” an element in first post thread for this discussion. Identify your chosen element by name and elemental symbol (abbreviation shown on the periodic table).
  2. Use online sources to determine when and where the element was discovered.  If your chosen element was known in ancient times, record where the first (oldest) sample was discovered and the era (or range of years) the sample was used. Please try to narrow down the place as much as possible. For instance, a city is better than a region, but a region is preferable to a country.
  3. Watch this video regarding latitude and longitude.

    You can view the transcript for “How to read Latitude and Longitude Coordinates” here (opens in new window).
  4. Determine and record reasonable latitude and longitude coordinates for where your chosen element was discovered.  You may use any resources available online.
  5. Research important physical properties and uses of your element, such as the phase in which the element is most commonly observed (i.e., gas, liquid, or solid) and what it looks like.  Also look up its melting point and boiling point (under normal atmospheric pressure), and its density.  (If the substance does not melt, but has a sublimation point instead.) Learn about how your element is used by humans and how it impacts our planet.
  6. Post your element discovery information: element name, elemental symbol, year or era of discovery, latitude and longitude coordinates of discovery, all major physical properties, applications for this element, and any environmental or health issues – be sure to include the links to your source(s).
  7. Read the posts of at least two other students and post a short comment on each of their posts.


*We can create a class map for our elements after everyone has entered their information*