MATLAB Periodic Table Activity  


Mary Ellen Verona, founder of the Maryland Virtual High School developed a MATLAB program for the periodic table. With the addition of several other databases of properties, this program was used with AP chemistry students at Williamsport High School. This activity can meet several MSDE Core Learning Goals .

Prior Knowledge

Before this activity, students have done a variety of periodic table labs and activities in their first year class. In addition, they have reviewed the table in class.

Time and Evaluation of Activity

The first draft of the worksheet took the students less than a half hour to complete and there seemed to be a great deal of confusion over what was actually being shown. The draft presented here has not yet been used with students but was amended in response to their concerns.

MSDE CORE Learning Goals

  1. Goal 1: Skills and Processes
    1. Expectation 4: The student will demonstrate that data analysis is a vital aspect of the process of scientific inquiry and communication
      1. Indicator 6: The student will use spreadsheet, graphing, and database programs and probeware on computers and/or graphing calculators
    2. Expectation 5: The student will use appropriate methods for communicating in writing and orally the processses and results of scientific investigation
      1. Indicator 1: The student will demonstrate the ability to summarize scientific concepts, processes and data through written communications
      2. Indicator 5: The student will use computers and/or graphing calculators to produce tables, graphs and spreadsheet calculations
  2. Goal 4: Concepts of Chemistry
    1. Expectation 2: The student will explain that all matter has structure and the structure serves as a basis for the properties of and the changes in matter
      1. Indicator 2: The student will demonstrate that the arrangement and number of electrons determines the properties of an element and that these properties repeat in a periodic manner illustrated by their arrangement in the periodic table

MATLAB Periodic Table Activity

1. Click on the MatLab alias. After MatLab is open and the command window is 
showing the prompt >>, type

	load ptable

Next, type		who

for a list of variable names, in this case the properties of the elements 
which are available.

2. Now try plotting a single property vs. atomic number 


	will give a plot of Melting point vs. atomic number.

	a. To find a particular group, type

	hold on;  (this holds the current plot)
	i=find(Group==1);  (this will find Group 1 elements)
	plot(i, MeltingPt(i),'or')  (this will circle the group 1
					elements in red on the plot)

	b. Now try getting group 2 circled in yellow.

3. Try plotting a different property

	hold off;
	plot(Atomicrad, 'g');
	Now try looking at the data a different way

	load noble.dat;  (a file of noble gas atomic numbers)
	hold on;

	The red lines divide the graph into periods

	Repeat the above steps for ionE
4. Try plotting some other properties.

5. You might try a 3 dimensional plot. 

	grid on;

	Try comparing some other properties.

Program and Data Files

The program ( makeptab.m ) which reads all the data files and sets up the variables. It saves the files then as ptable.mat . To download this formatted file use the pop-up menu and Save this Link As option. This program is a MatLab .mat file and can not be read directly as a text file. The makeptab.m file is a straight text file.

The following programs each hold data of the listed type for the elements. Units (if known) are given in the text at the top of the file. These can be read directly, as they are text files.

And the file of data for drawing vertical lines at the noble gases noble.dat .

Files have also been created which can be used to create a screen version of the periodic table. The data file is tabrec.dat and the file which reads it is maketab.m . This second program creates a binary file tabrec.mat which, like the ptable.mat file, needs to be saved as a source file from here.

Once the ptable.mat and tabrec.mat files are on the computer, the program initTab.m can be run. This automatically loads the two mat files and lists the avaliable properties. A Contents.m stored in the periodic table folder or subdirectory functions as a help file.

Also available are 3 functions. printp.m draws the periodic table using the tablrec.mat file while clickel.m allows the user to click on the drawn table at the position of any element and display that elements properties. surf2.m expects a Property name and tabp and then plots a surface plot of that property.

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