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The Periodic Table of Videos
University of Nottingham
Brady Haran
Web Site/Portal
Experiential learning
Fundamental Chemistry, Life Chemistry, Materials Science, Food Science, Environmental Chemistry
Upper Secondary School
English, Portuguese, Spanish
The homepage of this superb website features an interactive periodic table linked to short videos on each element. Caesium for example is presented with its use in exact time measurement, and showing its explosive reaction with water. Most videos are about 10 minutes long, and in the classroom you may decide to use all or part of a clip.
The Periodic Table of Videos is produced by a multidisciplinary team of scientists at the University of Nottingham, all of whom feature in the videos. The team is led by Professor Martin Poliakoff, who has a very distinctive, relaxed and engaging camera presence.
Other members of the team include various lecturers, each with their own specialities, such as Pete Licence with his explosive practical demonstrations, technicians, a public awareness scientist, and Brady Haran, a video journalist with a passion for science communication and the creator of the website. With this wealth of expertise it is no surprise that the team have created such a marvellous resource for teachers and students.
As well as on their website and YouTube, the team can be followed on Facebook, Twitter and by RSS feed. Brady Haran also has a blog with links to his photos on the online photo repository Flickr.
The website offers something for anyone interested in science: after all, chemistry sits directly between physics on one hand and biology on the other. But there’s more than the physical and biological properties of the elements to gain the attention of non-chemists. For example the site has a link to ‘Sixty Symbols’ which are short video clips about teh symbols of physics and astronomy. There is also a new weblink to ‘foodskey’ about the science behind what we eat and drink. I know many colleagues who, like me, use the clips occasionally to trigger discussions on specific topics, but also just for general interest and relevance. The ‘Molecular Videos’ feature amongst other substances, a range of pharmaceutical molecules like aspirin, morphine, salbutamol and so on. The important thing is that all of the videos are short, engaging and interactive.
Some videos are available in other languages on YouTube, for example in Spanish, Portugese, Indonesian or Italian.

The Periodic Table of Videos links to a sister site, Test Tube, another brainchild of Brady Haran, featuring a collection of videos. Test Tube started in 2007, when Brady was appointed filmmaker-in-residence for the Nottingham Science City websitew2. Test Tube's purpose was to show what science is really like, from the highs of exciting breakthroughs, to the lows of tedious experiments. The Periodic Table of Videos grew from this original idea.
While the elements of the periodic table are the main focus of the website, it offers so much more: there is a large assortment of miscellaneous chemistry-related ‘Extra videos’. One is ‘Perfect perfume’, where the team try to create the ultimate Valentine’s Day scent. Others include videos on topics from the pesticide DDT to dynamite and Viagra®. And of course, the ‘The elements song’ makes for an excellent piece of comedy! There are even a set of videos on road trips the team have taken to various parts of the UK, Europe and beyond. For example, during a trip to Turin in Italy, they produced a video on the chemistry of the Turin Shroud and radioactive carbon dating.
The Periodic Table of Videos is a work in progress; new videos are constantly being added, and the elements videos are updated as the team sees fit. One recent update was to the carbon video, to include more information on allotropes and the wonderful Nobel-prize-winning material, graphene. The website is an example of the way students should be engaging with science. No textbook could ever capture the imagination in the way these presenters do. They also have the facilities and experience to demonstrate experiments that would not be possible in a school laboratory. Do visit the website and experience it for yourself.
One video that illustrates the state-of-the-art in science was filmed on Martin Poliakoff’s birthday. He visited the Nottingham Nanotechnology and Nanoscience Centre, where one of the researchers there took a hair from Martin’s head and beamed a stream of electrons onto it, creating a microscopic lithograph of the periodic table on the hair. Just one more wonder of modern science and technology; just one more imaginative film on this marvellous, highly recommended website.
This was a difficult website to review because I just kept going back to watch one more video. The videos are all short enough to use in any lesson as a trigger for discussion or as an illustration of periodic properties. While Professor Poliakoff looks like the stereotype of a scientist, I feel that his manner and evident curiosity about the scientific world are attractive to audiences of all ages.
Limerick Institute of Technology

Comments about this Publication

Your comments are welcome

Date: 2013.02.11

Posted by José Antonio Martín-Lagos Martínez (Spain)

Message: The truth is that when the moment comes to explain the periodic table, it tends to be boring, abstract and something “removed” from reality for students. This table is supported with videos of each element, each of which shows us the characteristics of the elements in an entertaining and didactic way, thus bringing laboratory work closer to the students.
Students show more interest in the subject and more specifically in the topic of the periodic table because it is no longer something inanimate but rather something with life. The videos aren’t long and this facilitates viewing them in class and showing the elements in their everyday applications or in industry; this is always done with a fun and close approach, which makes it very useful to students to familiarize themselves with the periodic table.
Students like is to manipulate, touch…ultimately, this application is valid for class, but it is also a method to reinforce autonomous knowledge at home.
More than innovative it is very visual and intuitive, and that makes the periodic table, which is normally something very abstract, seem less theoretical and more practical to students.

Date: 2013.02.04

Posted by YY (Czech Republic)

Message: The website “The periodic table of videos” is very valuable tool for the secondary school students and also for the teachers. The website is mainly based on the promoting the short videos which descibe each element of the periodic table. The videos are very short so their length is appropriate and they are able to provide all the information also with the reasonable depth. The technical quality of the videos is high and professional. The information provided can be used as a teaching material and help teachers make chemistry classes to be more interesting and attractive for the students. I suppose that teachers and also students also appreciate that all the videos are uploaded and accessible on YouTube channel. Due to this “The periodic table of videos” has great potential for use in not only in chemistry classes, but also for students and young chemists in their school or scientific works and projects. But due the providing on the social channels such as YouTube and also Facebook can any person (wide public) with the interest in science (chemistry particularly) find very useful and interesting information of each element. The videos are very entertaing, with some very funny comments and some of them are very humorous, like that they have huge potential to get attention wide group of people from kids to scientists. I would especially elevate that the content of the website is also promoted also on the Facebook fanpage, where is lots of fans of the videos. Even if I think that guide of all videos – professor looks like “funny prototype” of a scientist, I think that videos would be more interesting and capturing for students if the videos would be guided by someone of their age. In the end another positive thing about this learning source is that the website is regularly updated and enriched about new videos and information. Via website I was able to find many other useful links and the websites, which also provide intersting information not only about chemistry but also about science, technology, maths etc.

Date: 2013.02.02

Posted by Mária Fabianová (Slovakia)

Message: As a teacher at a primary school this page interested me, it consists of a set of short videos about each element of the periodic table. Videos have a description of an each element, description of its practical use in chemistry, curiosities and its history and also an illustrative experiment. Technical quality of videos is high because it is a result of cooperation between scientists and professional journalists. Even though it is basically short videos they are able to provide all information to adeqate depth about chemistry of an each element. The most of the experiments are well designed and are able to work with an imagination of a spectator and some of the experiments are explosive (eg. Potassium video). For me it is very valuable tool when teaching. By containing a big amount of information about all elements of the periodic table (reactions, applications, discoveries). I can use these information as a teaching material and it helps me to organise teaching of chemistry much more interestingly. Owing to a short duration of videos I do not spend much time and can easily use them in a classroom. Videos are very usefull and motivating for laboratory exercises and it is visible from this videos that they keep all the safety rules. By this way students have a possibility to enrich thier knowledge about connection between theory and practice, to watch and realize very interesting experiments. Students also learn faster because visualisation enables them to increase the rate of learning. At this page it is also possible to gain useful information about elements which are not available in videos.
Another positive aspect of this web is that it is continuously updated. For example this webpage was recently extended of videos about some characteristic and important molecules and by this it significantly broaden its content. This webpage is very useful for me and at the same time it is a good teaching help and it also helps me to inovate my approach towards teaching of chemistry and motivates my students.

Date: 2013.01.23

Posted by Antonio Jesús Torres (Spain)

Message: The periodic table of videos is a very useful resource to use in chemistry classes. It has a complete collection of videos about the elements. You can see the use of the elements in the pharmaceutical industry, scientific research and daily life in a didactical and attractive way, with some interesting anecdotes and british sense of humor. These characteristics make the website a worthwhile addition to any set of educational resources. It can increase the students’ interest toward chemistry because use an colloquial language, and all the information is given through short videos, using an attractive, accessible and very modern audiovisual format ( And you can find spanish subtitles in some of the videos if you want). It´s frequently updated and their authors add more sections like “sixty symbols” about physics or “molecular videos” about molecules and compounds. I think that it can help the students to understand better and faster chemistry contents because it is an ideal complement of the textbook and teacher´s explanation. It does not propose an innovative didactical approach because it works like an educational tool used as a complement to the lessons, although it is interesting to note that it leverages social networks such twitter enabling a more efficient use of ICT in the classroom.

Date: 2012.10.17

Posted by RADKA KRASTEVA (Bulgaria)

Message: The website under investigation contains a state-of-the-art version of the periodic system plus a variety of video resources related with curious phenomena and products of perfumery and cosmetics. This wide range of rich information in chemistry could be used along with an extra bulk of knowledge in physics and biology thus being of greater use to school and college students and teachers alike.
Another positive feature of the website is the way interesting facts and factual knowledge are blended rendering both in a form of a digest that is accessible for a large number of practitioners and lay people
Any person with specific interest in sciences can find a host of subjects in the website. Chemistry is set between physics and biology which in a way attracts curiosity of readers other than professional chemists. The integration of short message, humor and entertaining facts would make these video resources a target of special interest on behalf of school students.
Routine information as the one contained in the periodic table of elements is presented in a very attractive manner. By choosing an element from the table, the students are allowed access to a very interesting material which enables them to acquire specific chemical information quickly and more easily. All chemical experiments watched by the students facilitate faster formation of a bulk of theory based knowledge and concrete application of chemical terms and phenomena.
The site also facilitates cross-discipline interaction with sciences such as physics, biology, IT, languages , etc.
By using this site students enlarge their knowledge and competence in chemistry.
Another advantage of the site is the innovative approach used in teaching chemistry and sciences.
The interactive approach to the periodic table of elements allows students to acquire knowledge of chemical elements, their compounds and relevant application in life.
Modern audio-visual aids, such as multimedia projectors and laptops and reliable internet connection are the main prerequisites for utilizing the benefits of this website in class.
Students do not have equal foreign language competence and cannot use the resources properly in chemistry classes, therefore, it is necessary to have the resources of the site in Bulgarian.
By using these resources learning chemistry is set on innovative basis as the students are enabled to apply it even in home settings and develop their individual scientific culture to a decent level.
Teachers using the website are still other beneficiaries as they can organize their lessons in chemistry in a novel and mind focusing way that will stir students to acquire more knowledge of the surrounding world.

Date: 2012.09.30

Posted by Mónica S. N. Oliveira (Portugal)

Message: This website presents a collection of short videos concerning each element of the periodic table. The videos include descriptions of the element in focus, considerations about its practical importance, curiosities and historical perspectives, as well as illustrative experiments. The technical quality of the videos is high, since they result from a collaboration between scientists and professional journalists. Even though they are generally short videos, they are able to convey information of a reasonable depth about the chemistry of each element. Most experiments are well conceived and are able to capture the imagination of the viewer, with some experiments being literally “explosive” (e.g., the “Potassium” video). In most cases, the experiments cannot be replicated in a classroom environment (because they involve expensive chemicals, present safety problems, or require highly specialised equipment), and thus the videos have great potential for use in a teaching context, since they have the correct blend of scientific information and visual appeal. However, some of the experiments can be replicated in class, and thus can contribute even further to stimulating the interest and capturing the attention of the students. Even when the experiment does not proceed according to the original plan (e.g., video “Accidental”), the authors are able to take advantage of that fact to obtain chemical insight into the problem at hand and propose a new and even better version – and this can be a valuable resource for teachers. An important aspect of the webpage development is that the authors are periodically updating the content, either by performing new experiments in a given topic, or by including videos on related subjects. For example, the webpage has been recently extended to include videos about several characteristic and important molecules, thus significantly extending the scope of the content. Overall, this teaching resource is very appealing, having the potential to increase student’s interest toward chemistry and their ability to better understand the underlying concepts.

Date: 2012.09.21

Posted by Katerina Paschalidou (Greece)

Message: The website “The periodic table of videos” is really a valuable tool for the teachers. It contains a lot of information for all the elements of the periodic table (reactions, applications, discoveries).

The information provided can be used as teaching material and help teachers organize chemistry classes that are more interesting for the students. The available videos are usually quite short and in this way they can be used more easily in the classroom. Some of the chemical reactions shown in the videos could be performed in a school laboratory as well, while for some others this is practically impossible. I liked very much the fact that the people in the videos seem to really enjoy doing the experiments, especially the ones which are more spectacular. In addition, all safety precautions are kept. This is a matter of critical importance since many students have a fear for chemicals and for performing experiments which they always think that they are very dangerous. By watching these videos, it is realized that anybody can be involved in lab work and enjoy the experience, as long as all safety precautions are kept. In this respect, students can get motivated to get involved in lab work.

I believe that via this teaching resource students’ interest in chemistry is increased. This happens because students have the chance to enrich their knowledge, make connections between theory and practice and watch very interesting and impressive experiments. For sure, students can learn faster since proper visualization can drastically enhance learning. In addition, the website creators have taken care to put useful information also for the few elements for which no video is available. This information is very interesting and quite difficult for a student to find on its own elsewhere. Another positive aspect of this resource is that the site is continuously enriched and updated.

Overall, this webpage is a useful and novel teaching tool. However, it does not propose or constitute a new teaching approach.

National Reports on successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry The national reports on chemistry successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry are now available on the related section of the project portal. The reports presents examples of successful experiences in the partner countries and the results of testing of ICT resources with science teachers.