Everything on Earth is made up of ‘chemical elements’. So far, scientists have discovered 118 different chemical elements. They are listed in a special chart known as the ‘periodic table’.
The chemical elements are all different and scientists describe them as having different ‘properties’. Some of them normally exist on Earth as gases, some as liquids and some as solids. Some are metals, others are non-metals.
Each chemical element has its own name and a symbol (a short way of writing its name) that is one or two letters long. You probably already know the names of some chemical elements. For example: gold (Au) and silver (Ag) are valuable precious metals; chlorine (Cl) is a disinfectant that is used to keep swimming pools clean.
Sometimes, the name and symbol come from an old Greek or Latin word that describes something about that chemical element. The name for the element Carbon (C) comes from the Latin word for charcoal.
Sometimes, the name and symbol for a chemical element come from the name of a person. Like Einsteinium (Es), which is named after the famous scientist Albert Einstein.
If you click on a chemical element in this interactive periodic table, you can find out all about its properties and what it is used for.
But if you want to know what chemical elements are made of, well that’s another story…