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Picture of A Student Made Periodic Table

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Periodic Table, the Grade 9 Science classes at Vaughan SS have created tiles of all 118 elements! These tiles were installed in the Science wing to showcase student work, encourage student engagement, and divert CD cases from disposal in the landfill (i.e. up-cycling). This installation integrates the Arts into STEM education (now STEAM), and encourages cross-curricular connections between Science, Arts, Mathematics, and Technological Design. Students from all grades were involved in painting, designing, and constructing the periodic table, in addition to producing a time-lapse video of the installation process.

Inspiration: We are indebted to Thornhill’s Science Department for inspiring our Periodic Table and sharing their rubric and lessons learned. We were also inspired by the University of Waterloo’s Periodic Table Project and Timeline of the Elements Projects.

TWO years since we started, we are PROUD to present our student-made Periodic Table! This post has 4 parts:

  1. 118 Element Tiles (Individual student project)
  2. Building the Periodic Table (Designing & constructing the main display)
  3. All the Extras (Laser cutting signs, arrows, etc)
  4. Installing the Periodic Table (Creating time-lapse videos)

Check out the finished videos here and here!

Step 1: 118 Element Tiles (Individual Student Projects)

Picture of 118 Element Tiles (Individual Student Projects)
Screen Shot 2019-07-06 at 12.29.43 PM.png


  • 118+ Regular Jewel/CD Cases (Not the slim cases)
  • Student Assignment Sheet & Rubric (See attached files)
  • CD Template (See attached files)

Learning Goals:

  • communicate ideas, in writing, diagrams and through the use of images
  • demonstrate an understanding of the properties of an element in the periodic table.
  • select, organize, and record relevant information on a research topic from a variety of appropriate sources, including electronic, print, and/or human sources, using suitable formats and an accepted form of academic documentation

The Student Project comprises of 4 parts:

  1. Artwork: Students researched their assigned element and design a tile that illustrated the history, discovery, uses of the element, and physical/chemical properties. Family groups (e.g. Alkali metals, alkaline earth metals, halogens) were indicated by a 1” border corresponding to this colour-coded Periodic Table.
  2. Atomic Properties
  3. Description of the meaning/relevance of your artwork
  4. References

We used a Random Name Picker to assign each element to a student. To ensure an even distribution, we assigned blocks of elements to each class (i.e. #1-10, 31-40 for Class A, #11-20, 41-50 for Class B, #21-30, 51-60 for Class C, etc). This was repeated for several semesters until we had a minimum of one completed tile for each element.

When we started the project, we asked students to help collect CD cases and the majority were donated through online classifieds, and colleagues and friends de-cluttering their basements. Once we had a collection of used CD cases, only the final CD booklet was required. We recommend collecting as many CD cases you can so you can swap out cracked/damaged cases. A template for the CD booklet was provided as a PDF and PowerPoint file for students to edit.

After two years and 500+ students, a jury of students organized and chose which elements to display!

ch00k (author) 2 months ago
Thank you everyone! If you are looking for ideas on how to mount your own CD cases, we saw one that slid the CDs onto shelves. Similar to this:
Kink Jarfold2 months ago
What a great oproject!
aimdroid2 months ago
This is an excellent project! I have been wanting to do a big periodic table display for quite a while, and I love your use of recyclable materials!

Such an awesome idea! I love that the CD cases can still be opened so new student work can be added. Great job!!!
audreyobscura2 months ago
What an awesome collaborative project!