Saturday, November 5, 2011

Demonstrating or just showing off?

I'm not entirely sure whether I did this video to demonstrate the value of the two elements songs I wrote, or just to show off that I can do it. Either way, here it is as a record that even a lowly musician who hasn't taken a science course in at least 20 years can use a pair of mnemonic songs to recreate a periodic table from memory. (And have some fun in the process.) Of course, the songs I used were my own, which I posted about last month.

To record the video, I just stayed after class one day and put my iPhone on a music stand. Since I teach in a school of music, the staff lines on the blackboard made it that much easier to draw the framework. After that, I just started the camera and went to work. In any case, you can see that the main time limiting factor in filling in the table is how long it takes to draw the letters.

All this leaves us with a question. Is it worthwhile to memorize the table, when we can easily pull one up anytime we need one? Perhaps not. But it is a fun exercise, a chance to practice one's memory skills, and a reason to spend a nice little chunk of time with the elements and how they relate to each other. It can also help to reinforce the connection between symbols and names.

And heck, sometimes it's just fun to show off!