Proud of our LSC Periodic Table

Screenshot 2023-02-10 at 2.38.08 pm

We are fortunate to have had our LSC Laboratory Technician, Mark McPherson, build an interactive Periodic Table for Leongatha Secondary College. This has been a labour of love on Marks part, he should be proud of what he has achieved, the results are just amazing. We wanted thank Mark for his work, and showcase what our LSC students and staff have available to them.

Mark has spent a huge amount of time over the past several years, creating this first class model of a periodic table. Feedback from one of our chemistry teachers said ‘The interactive full size periodic table that Mark created is fantastic. Besides the ‘wow factor’ it brings to the lesson, it is highly functional and really engages the students in the content. I use it regularly when in chemistry classes, being placed at the back of the room allows for a nice shift in focus to change the pacing of the lesson. ‘

We have asked Mark for some further information on the creation of this Periodic Table and has provided the following detail:

‘I am Mark McPherson, the laboratory technician here at LSC and I am always trying to make the science lessons more interesting and exciting, which can be easy since in science we have many fantastic phenomena some of which can even look like magic. 

I have wanted to have a collection of chemical elements for a long time, ever since I was in chemistry class as a student, working here at LSC allowed me to achieve this dream. The chemical elements are the basic building blocks for all chemicals, everything you see around you, and even your body is made from compounds composed of different elements or from pure elements. Currently there are 118 elements, but of course you can only have samples of some of them since a lot are very unstable, the heaviest of the elements have half lifes of tiny fractions of a second and so it is not possible to make and store large samples of these and they would be extremely radioactive. There are also some very chemically reactive elements which can be quite dangerous to work with. The most chemically reactive elements are Caesium and Fluorine, the samples that are present in the periodic table are sealed in glass ampoules and are inaccessible by the students, but still easily visible. While it would be fantastic to have samples that students could handle, it would be too dangerous since just dropping them would result in a nasty chemical burn or possible toxic effects. So this is a great compromise that allows students to view these elements up close. I created some of the samples myself such as the chlorine gas and sodium metal which requires a tricky electrochemical process that has to be kept very dry since sodium reacts explosively with water. 

Present are some samples that outline important uses for the elements as well, such as the light globe filament which is made from tungsten or the silicon wafer which is used to make all modern electronic integrated circuits. The best glow in the dark powder which use Erbium and matches which use phosphorus to ignite with just some friction. 

While most of the radioactive element boxes are empty, I do have a sample of radium that was used to paint watch hands that glow in the dark, and some uranium glass which is a nice shade of green and fluorescent under ultraviolet light, both of these are very low in radioactivity, just above the background level.  

The Periodic table has some controls at the bottom that allows teachers or students to select the particular group of elements that they are discussing during lessons that cover the structure of the periodic table and how to use it. So each of the groups can light up individually in different colours, then the metals, non metals, metalloids, the transition metals, and Lanthanides and actinides can all be viewed separately. The second to last button just turns all the leds on white so that the samples can be easily viewed in true colour. 

This is still a work in progress, I hope to get some more samples as well as install ultra violet leds for the fluorescent materials such as the uranium glass, and fluorite, which is what the last unlabeled button is for. I would also like to include some high voltage for the noble gasses so that they can light up like a neon signs. Each noble gas glows a different color. However I have found that the high voltage interferes with the other electronics controlling the LEDs and so this may have to be a separate display elsewhere in the room. 

It is always so great to see how interested the students are in the display and are asking questions about each of the samples, it makes all the hard work worthwhile.’