10-Ne Women and Periodic Table

On Friday March 8th we will commemorate International Women’s Day. We would like to join such a day, so we have built up a game with the help of Sílvia Simon. It is based on the low-down triple deal created by Colm Mulcahy, which we recently used for Christmas:

However, now we would like to stress the importance that women have had into the buildup of the Periodic Table of the Chemical Elements. Indeed we must mention Marie Curie, who deserves an honours spot in Science, but we should mention also many other female scientists that contributed to establish the current Periodic Table, and that for various reasons have not received proper credit yet.

Let’s start with a list of women related to the Periodic Table, along with the chemical element most related to them:

  • Marie Curie – Cm World-famous Polish physicist who discovered radium (Ra) and polonium (Po) with her husband, Pierre; made history by winning two Nobel Prizes for her work on radiation; and became the namesake of curium (Cm), element 96
  • Ida Tacke – Re German physicist and chemist who discovered rhenium (Re) alongside her husband, Walter, and was nominated three times for a Nobel Prize, but never won.
  • Lise Meitner – Mt Noted Austrian physicist and close friend of Karlik’s who discovered nuclear fission; identified an isotope of protactinium (Pa); and later became the namesake of element 109, meitnerium (Mt).
  • Margueritte Perey – Fr French physicist and student of Marie Curie’s who discovered francium (Fr), a highly unstable radioactive metal.
  • Iulia Lermontova – Rh took up the challenge — probably at Mendeleev’s behest — to refine the separation processes for the platinum-group metals (ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium and platinum)
  • Harriet Brooks – Rn Brooks’s radon contribution was a first, crucial step. She is rarely credited. Although the first paper was authored by both Brooks and Rutherford, the next one in Nature carried only Rutherford’s name — with a credit line that Brooks assisted him
  • Margaret Todd – Th Although the British chemist Frederick Soddy introduced the concept of isotopes in 1913, it was the physician Margaret Todd who suggested the term (meaning ‘same place’ in Greek) at a dinner party
  • Stefanie Horovitz – Pb Working at the Radium Institute in Vienna, she showed that even a common element such as lead can have different atomic weights, depending on whether it stems from the radioactive decay of uranium or thorium
  • Berta Karlik – At Austrian physicist and contemporary of Curie’s who discovered astatine (At), a radioactive element most commonly used for cancer therapy.
  • Dawn Shaughnessy – Og Now principal investigator of the heavy-element project (and several others) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, which has helped to discover six new elements (numbers 113–118)
  • Darleane Christian Hoffman – Fm Made a monumental leap in the early 1970s. She showed that the isotope fermium-257 could split spontaneously — not only after being bombarded with neutrons. The first woman to lead a scientific division at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Hoffman also uncovered plutonium-244 in nature.
  • Reatha King – F first African American female scientist to work at the National Bureau of Standards in Washington DC. In the 1960s, she studied the combustion of gaseous mixtures of fluorine, oxygen and hydrogen
  • Toshiko Mayeda – O helped to measure the ratio of oxygen isotopes in fossilized shells to deduce the temperatures of prehistoric oceans, and expanded that method to meteorites.
  • Irène Joliot-Curie – He discovered how to synthesize artificial elements in the lab, useful in many important medical procedures. She went on to direct her mother’s Radium Institute. Like her mother, she died relatively young due to long-term exposure the radiation.

The last three scientists did not actually discover the corresponding element, but did contribute meaningfully to discover their isotopes of their radioactivity.


To improve one’s knowledge on these Science women, and their relationship with elements of the Periodic Table, here are several up-to-date references:

The game of Women and the Periodic Table


[Waiting for translation]

En targes blanques, o cartes de pòker blanques (es poden comprar a les botigues de jocs, però no són pas barates), o senzillament en 14 papers d’igual mida, s’hi imprimeixen o escriuen els noms de les científiques esmentades més amunt, juntament amb l’element que les acompanya.

Per facilitar-ho, hem escrit en un pdf tots els noms de les científiques.


Elecció de la científica favorita

S’ajunten les cartolines (14 si es fa servir la llista proposada) com si fossin un paquet de cartes de pòker. Es barregen, o es tallen, … com es vulgui, però es desordenen. Es demana que la científica preferida, però, es posi a sota de tot, amb l’escriptura cap avall (no es pot veure de cara).

Establiment de la paraula màgica

Es pensa en una paraula que sigui màgica, que sigui catalitzadora. Proposem, en aquest joc, fer servir la paraula catalitzadora “periódica“. Compte! aquesta paraula ha de tenir un mínim de 8 lletres i un màxim de 12; “periòdica” en té 9 i per tant satisfa el requisit.


Llavors, una persona fa el joc: agafa el paquet de 14 tarjes amb la científica escollida a sota de tot, i lletreja la paraula màgica (tal com suggerim, “periòdica”) invertint una a una l’ordre de les cartes lletrejades i formant un nou paquet. Un cop acabat el lletreig, es posa el petit paquet que queda a la mà al cim del paquet de cartes lletrejades. Llavors mostra la tarja superior i inferior, mostrant no hi ha res d’especial. Cap carta és, òbviament, la de la científica preferida

Aquest procés es repeteix dos cops: es torna a lletrejar la parula màgica catalitzadora, invertint cartes i posant el paquet restant al cim de les cartes lletrejades. Mostrant la tarja superior i inferior, torna a no revelar-s’hi res especial, cap no és la de la científica preferida, és clar.

El que cal és esforçar-s’hi una mica. El tercer cop es tracta de dir en veu ben alta una paraula realment màgica, com “donataulaperiòdica” (dir-la amb èmfasi i veu potent!). Es repeteix el procediment que ja s’ha fet servir dos vegades… un cop acabat i reunit un sol paquet, no es mostra cap carta.

Sorpresa final

Es recorda quina era la científica escollida… un cop recordada i sapiguda per tothom, es gira lentament la carta superior – màgicament, la científica escollida es troba a dalt de tot del paquet! I gràcies a la paraula màgica catalitzadora, sens dubte!

Es tracta d’un joc realment sorprenent i de funcionament misteriós, que pot adaptar-se als gustos i a la història que es desitgi. El lector pot aportar-hi el seu gra de sorra i la seva originalitat pròpia.


Naturalment en lloc de noms, es pot fer servir directament símbols atòmics o noms dels elements. També és molt misteriós!

En lloc de fer servir una paraula màgica catalitzadora, es poden llançar 3 daus, i sumar els valors obteninguts… si surt entre 8 i 12, cosa probable, s’accepta el resultat i llavors el lletreig es fa senzillament comptant aquest número de cartes.

Alternativa més complexa a la paraula màgica

També es podria fer servir alguna de les científiques de la llista, per exemple si s’escollís una de les 14 científiques que hem donat, proposem de fer servir…

  • Marie Curie
  • Ida Tacke
  • LMeitner
  • MarPerey
  • Lermontova
  • HaBrooks
  • Marga Todd
  • StefHorovitz
  • Berta Karlik
  • Shaughnessy
  • DarHoffman
  • ReathaKing
  • ToshiMayeda
  • IreneCurie

Required material

Pdf with scientists’ names

One may use the card set of the Periodic Table that we used in earlier games. They should be printed rather in cardboard or in thick paper.