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Patterns in the Electronic Configurations of the Elements

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Describe the patterns in the electronic configurations of the elements.

Each row across the periodic table is called a period and the elements gradually change properties from left to right. Can you explain this in terms of the electronic configurations?

Each column of the periodic table is called a family. Elements in the same family have similar properties. Are there any similarities in the electronic configuration within a family (column)?

Would you expect the size of the atoms to increase, decrease, or stay the same from the top of the column (family) to the bottom of the same column (same family)? Explain.

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The first period starts with hydrogen (H) and ends with helium (He). It has just two elements H (Z=1) and He (Z = 2). H has one electron in the K-shell. He has 2 electrons in the K-shell. The K-shell can hold only 2 electrons. Thus the first period is complete. The second period starts with Li (Z=3), where the K-shell is filled and the next shell, the L-shell is starting to fill. After Li the next element is beryllium (Be, Z=4). Its K-shell is complete and it has 2 electrons in the L-shell. The maximum number of electrons held in the L-shell is 8. So the period has 8 elements, in which each element's L-shell is getting filled. The last element in ...

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Candy Experiment - Valence Electrons

Lab Experiment: Interactive Valence Shell Electrons
1. You will need a bag of colored candies such as "Skittles" or "M&M" You should have at least 80 pieces of this candy. You will also need eighteen index cards. Nine sheets of notebook paper torn in half will work as well as index cards.
2. Separate the candies by color. Place the candies on a paper towel to keep them clean.
3. Although there is no physical difference in electrons, try and use the same color for valence shell electrons in the same family.
4. Look at the periodic table in where the element with atomic number 1 is located.
5. Write the chemical symbol for element number 1 on an index card. Draw a circle around the symbol and number to represent the first energy level. Place the appropriate number and color of candies to represent ONLY THE VALENCE SHELL ELECTRONS.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for element with atomic number 2 and show only the valence shell electrons.
7. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for all the elements up to atomic number 18.
8. Arrange your 18 atoms the way they are in the periodic table. Thus the first column should contain the elements hydrogen, lithium, and sodium.

Observations and Skills Development

A. What is the pattern of valences from left to right across a period?
B. What is the pattern of valences from the top of one column to the bottom of the same column?
C. Each column of the periodic table is called a family. Elements in the same family have similar properties. Are there any similarities in the electronic configuration within a family (column)?
D. Which column of elements would you expect to be the most reactive? Explain.

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