The Elements Collection
Updated on March 2nd, 2020

The Periodic Table

I gave my school aged grand children a calendar featuring selected elements as a present for Christmas 2019. My plan is to select an element every month for 2020 and provide a collection box and mineral samples of twelve elements or compounds which contain the featured elements. Hopefully, my grand children will learn important aspects about the "Element of the Month" by using the Internet to answer a few questions I will provide each month. Also, I plan to introduce terms such as atom, molecule, and compound in addition to element. I will introduce two groups of compounds; metals and non metals (with examples of metallic and non-metallic mineral examples. At the close of 2020, not only will each family will have a colorful collection of twelve mineral samples representing the "Elements of the Month", but they will have been introduced to the fields of inorganic chemistry and mineralogy.

Elements of the Month


Element- Lithium (Symbol-Li) (Atomic Number-3)
Mineral- Lepidolite Mica
(from Minas Gerais, Brazil)

Lepidolite is a variety of a common type of mica called Muscovite.
Muscovite mica is composed of the elements; 
Potassium (K), Aluminum (Al), Silicon (Si), and Oxygen (O).

Lepidolite has the same composition as Muscovite except that it also contains Lithium (Li) which gives it its pale purple (Lilac) color.

1. What are three uses of Lithium?
2. What other mineral besides Lepidolite is a source of Lithium?
3. What is the hardness of Lepidolite on Mohs' Scale of Hardness?


Element- Copper (Symbol-Cu) (Atomic Number-29)
                                                                Mineral- Native Copper
(from Lake Superior, Michigan)

Native Copper is composed of only one element (Copper).
It is called native copper because it occurs naturally in the Earth's  crust.
The small greenish spots in this sample are either Malachite (a combination of copper, calcium, and oxygen) or Turquoise (a combination of copper, aluminum, potassium, hydrogen, and oxygen). These compounds are created when the pure Copper is combined with the other elements when exposed to the atmosphere and water.
1. Why is Copper used for electrical wiring?
2. Why is copper used in the bottom of high quality cooking pots?
3. What is the hardness of Copper in Mohs' Scale of Hardness?

Related Questions:
1. What does the Atomic Number mean?
2. What are protons. neutrons, and electrons?


Element- Bismuth (Symbol-Bi) (Atomic Number-83)
         Mineral- Rainbow Bismuth Crystal
(Synthetic-Grown in a Laboratory)

Naturally occurring Bismuth is an iridescent silvery white
crystalline, brittle, metal and is very rare.  It is usually a rainbow
colored crystal obtained as a by-product of mining and refining
lead, copper, tin, silver, and gold.

What does iridescent mean?
What does crystalline mean?
What does brittle mean?

What is the hardness of Bismuth in Mohs' Scale of Hardness?
What is Bismuth used for?

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Robert S. "Bo" Smith