Can You Identify These Chemical Elements from Their Symbols?

By: Khadija L.
Image: Kids Learning Tube

About This Quiz

A chemical element is a group of atoms which have a certain number of protons in their atomic nuclei, making up its atomic number. These elements constitute all of the matter found in the universe and they have been said to be incapable of being chemically altered or broken down into smaller substances. 

118 elements have been identified , 98 of which are naturally occurring on earth and the other 20 which have been synthesized artificially. Most of the elements are used to create metals and other structural elements. Some of them are even used by the human body for biological processes such as respiration, bone formation and to maintain homeostasis. There are also those which are used to create weapons and spacecraft, as well as some which are poisonous if inhaled or ingested. 

We all had to memorize at least the first 20 elements in the periodic table for chemistry class, but for those of us who left high school a while back and for those who didn't have a science major in college, it will be difficult to remember the symbols associated with the different elements. If you were given these symbols, would you be able to guess what element it represents? Let's find out!

Hydrogen is an element which is represented by the symbol H and the atomic number 1. It is the lightest element and the most abundant in the universe. While it has many uses, it is particularly known for being used as a coolant in generators and as an energy resource in power plants.

Krypton is an element which is represented by the symbol Kr and the atomic number 36. It is used in lighting when taking photos, in magnetic resonance imaging and computer tomography as well as an insulating gas between window panes.

Helium is an element which is represented by as the symbol He and the atomic number 2. It is a naturally occurring colorless and odorless gas which has quite a number of uses. It is however, mostly known for being used as a lifting gas in airships and balloons.

Zirconium is an element which is represented by the symbol Zr and the atomic number 40. While it has no biological role, it is used in positron emission tomography cameras, jet engines and has also been shown to have benefits for patients with chronic kidney disease.

Carbon is an element which is represented by the symbol C and the atomic number 6. It is one of the most abundant elements found in the Earth’s crust and is used by every living system as well as in lubricants, pigments, in electrodes and in charcoal.

Silver is an element which is represented by the symbol Ag and the atomic number 47. It is known for exhibiting high electrical and thermal conductivity. Most silver is produced as a byproduct of gold, lead and copper and the precious metal has been used in the creation of solar panels, utensils and money.

Oxygen is an element which is represented by the symbol O and the atomic number 8. It is one of the most abundant and combustible elements in the universe and is used in cellular respiration and photosynthesis in different organisms as well as in the creation of various compounds.

Iodine is an element which is represented by s the symbol I and the atomic number 53. It is the heaviest stable halogen and has a number of uses including as a catalyst, dye and colorant, pharmaceutical, sanitation and photography. It is also required by the body in order to synthesize thyroid hormones.

Neon is an element which is represented by the symbol Ne and the atomic number 10. It is a very expensive colorless and odorless noble gas which has been used in signs for its bright color as well as in vacuum tubes, wave meter tubes, helium lasers and also as a cryogenic refrigerant.

Barium is an element which is represented by the symbol Ba and the atomic number 56. It has a very high chemical reactivity and as such is not found in nature. In its soluble ion form, it is poisonous and has been used in rodenticides. It is also used in barium sulfate was well as X-ray imaging.

Sodium is an element which is represented by the symbol Na and the atomic number 11. It is one of the most abundant elements found in the Earth’s crust and has many different uses across several fields. In living creatures, it is the major cation found in extracellular fluid and it also plays a role in nerve impulses.

Iridium is an element which is represented by the symbol Ir and the atomic number 77. It is one of the rarest elements on earth, with only three tons being produced and consumed every year. It has been used to create spark plugs, and airplane parts as well as in medical imaging.

Silicon is an element which is represented by the symbol Si and the atomic number 14. It has an extremely high melting boiling points and can be found in substantial amounts in the Earth’s crust.

Platinum is an element which is represented by the symbol Pt and the atomic number 78. It is one of the rarer and least reactive metals and has been used to create parts for vehicles as well as in hard disks, turbine engines and jewelry and anticancer drugs.

Aluminum is an element which is represented by the symbol Al and the atomic number 13. Aluminum is known for having a low density as well as being able to resist corrosion. Because of this, it has been used in the transportation, aerospace, construction and packaging industries.

Sulfur is an element which is represented by the symbol S and the atomic number 16. It is one of the most abundant elements on the planet and has a wide variety of uses including in insecticides, furniture, as well as the treatment of acne. In the body, it is used as a cofactor and it is present in 3 amino acids.

Phosphorus is an element which is represented by the symbol P and the atomic number 15. It is an essential element to life as it is a component of DNA, RNA, ATP and phospholipids. It is also found in different detergents, fertilizers and pesticides

Gold is an element which is represented by the symbol Au and the atomic number 79. It is one of the precious metals, and throughout history has been used in creating coins, jewelry, electronics, medicine and even in various food preparations.

Zinc is an element which is represented by the symbol Zn and the atomic number 30. In the body, it is an essential element and is needed for pre and postnatal development and in other areas, it is used as an anti-corrosive agent, in paints and in galvanization.

Chlorine is an element which is represented by the symbol Cl and the atomic number 17. Chlorine has been used significantly in creating sanitation products like commercial bleaches as well as reagents, disinfectants and also in the production of polyvinyl chloride and plastics.

Mercury, also known as quicksilver, is an element which is represented by the symbol Hg and the atomic number 80. It has quite a number of uses, some of which include thermometers, sphygmomanometers and fluorescent lamps, but it is also poisonous if considerable amounts are ingested or inhaled.

Calcium is an element which is represented by the symbol Ca and the atomic number 20. It is the fifth most abundant element is the human body and plays a vital role in physiological and biochemical processes including signal transduction, muscle contraction and bone formation.

Lead is an element which is represented by the symbol Pb and the atomic number 82. Lead has quite a number of uses, some of which includes the production of bullets, weights, batteries and paints, as well as in construction and plumbing. It is also a neurotoxin and if it accumulates, it can cause blood disorders and damage the nervous system.

Titanium is an element which is represented by the symbol Ti and the atomic number 22. Because of its low density and its immense strength, it is used in the aerospace industry to create engines, missiles and spacecraft. It is also used to make prosthetics, dental implants and mobile phones.

Radon is an element which is represented by the symbol Rn and the atomic number 86. The gas has been listed as a carcinogen and as such, has been linked to lung cancer and increased risk of leukemia. Despite that, it has been used to treat some types of cancers.

Iron is an element which is represented by the symbol Fe and the atomic number 26. It has been listed as the most common element on Earth and has been used since ancient times in manufacturing steel and concrete. In humans it is a component of hemoglobin and myoglobin, as well as being important in cellular respiration.

Uranium is an element which is represented by the symbol U and the atomic number 92. It has one of the highest atomic weights of all of the elements and can also be toxic to humans. It has been used in nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons and in early photography.

Cobalt is an element which is represented by the symbol Co and the atomic number 27. It has been used as a blue pigment since ancient times in jewelry and paint and is still being used as one today. In the body, it is a component of a coenzyme called cobalamin or Vitamin B12.

Tin is an element which is represented by the symbol Sn and the atomic number 50. Because of how malleable it is, it has been used to produce corrosion resistant tin-plated steel, tin cans used for food and drinks, solder and PVC plastic.

Bismuth is an element which is represented by the symbol Bi and the atomic number 83. When it is stable, it has one of the highest atomic masses and is used as an ingredient in pharmaceuticals in products like Pepto-Bismol, in cosmetics like eyeshadows and hairspray and also as a pigment.

Plutonium is an element which is represented by the symbol Pu and the atomic number 94. Some types of plutonium are able to sustain nuclear chain reactions and therefore are used in nuclear weapons and nuclear reactions. There are also some forms of plutonium that are used to power spacecraft and as heat sources.

Copper is an element which is represented by the symbol Cu and the atomic number 29. It is one of the most popularly used elements in the word and can be found in everything from heat and electricity conductors in building materials to coins, jewelry and various pesticides.

Nitrogen is an element which is represented by the symbol N and the atomic number 7. This element forms almost 80% of the Earth’s atmosphere and can be found in all organisms as part of DNA and RNA and in the energy molecule; adenosine triphosphate.

Arsenic is an element which is represented by the symbol As and the atomic number 33. This element is used primarily in different types of ammunition, car batteries and pesticides. It is also very poisonous and can result in symptoms as mild as vomiting and abdominal pain to as serious as encephalopathy.

Potassium is an element which is represented by the symbol K and the atomic number 19. It is one of the elements that is essential for life as it plays a role in gastrointestinal motility, hormone secretion, glucose and insulin metabolism as well as homeostasis.

Einsteinium is a synthetic element which is represented by the symbol Es and the atomic number 99. Named after Albert Einstein, the element was discovered as a component of the first hydrogen bomb explosion, which occurred in 1952.

Chromium is an element which has the symbol Cr and the atomic number 24. It is known for being resistant to corrosion as well as being extremely hard and is therefore used as components of structural material as well as engines and turbines. It is also used as a pigment and wood preservative.

Xenon is an element which is represented by the symbol Xe and the atomic number 54. The colorless and odorless gas has been used in the creation of flash lamps, lasers, general anesthesia, and some athletes have been known use it as a doping agent as it can increase the production of erythropoietin.

Nobelium is an element which is represented by the symbol No and the atomic number 102. Named after the inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel, the element does not have a specific use partly due to its very short half-life.

Curium is an element which is represented by the symbol Cm and the atomic number 96. The element was named after Marie and Pierre Curie, researchers who were known for their work involving reactivity. Its most practical application is its involvement in X-ray spectrometers.

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