When people talk about elements, they’re usually talking about chemical elements. These special chemicals are the ingredients for every thing that exists. Whether something is living, like a person, or not living, like a rock, it’s made of elements. Some common elements that you might have heard of are oxygen, gold, silver, carbon, helium, and neon.
So far, 117 elements have been found. We know that 94 of them occur naturally and the rest have been made in science laboratories.
Everything in the room you are in right now is made up of elements in different combinations even the air! Air is mostly made up of an element called nitrogen, but there is also oxygen, carbon, and a little bit of some other elements like argon. People are made up of elements too! We’re mostly carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen!
ExplorationSame Ingredient, Different Recipe
Just because two things are made from the same elements doesn’t mean they’ll look the same or even act the same way. The element carbon is a great example of this. You’re probably familiar with two forms of carbon: graphite (the stuff that makes your pencils write) and diamonds! Graphite is a soft, brittle and dark-gray, perfect for writing! Diamonds are very hard and you can see through them. They also have beautiful shapes that make them perfect for jewelry. Both graphite and diamonds are made from only one thing: carbon!
It’s pretty amazing that one element can take on such different forms. Different chemical reactions and different arrangements of the element allow this to happen.
Carbon is also a pretty special element because it makes up all living things on Earth, with the help of some other elements!