Chemistry Teacher Guide to Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures

If you are learning about science, it can be really hard to know what makes elements, compounds and mixtures different. If you keep on reading, you are going to learn all about the difference - and then you can impress your teacher with how clever you are!

First, we are going to look at what elements are. Elements are something which is found in a very scientific table known as the 'periodic table'. Every single element is found here, and there is over a 100 - there are so many! Some of the examples you might have learned about include oxygen and hydrogen. These elements can also be known as 'atoms' and there is only one type of an atom in each element you see on the periodic table.

One thing which is important for you to know is that you can have loads of oxygen atoms or any other type of atoms joined together on their own, but they will still be elements.

Some elements will be able to mix with each other too, in what is known as a chemical reaction. This is something special where two elements, such as oxygen and hydrogen, can join together and form a compound. Compounds have created some of the most important things in our world - after all, two oxygen atoms and one hydrogen atom can give you water. One carbon atom and two oxygen atoms can also give you carbon dioxide, something that we breathe out of our bodies.

A compound really is special - it is like mixing two ingredients when you are making cakes. It creates something brand-new and exciting which might be different to what the two ingredients are like separately. The amount of compounds that there can be is huge - because of how many elements that there are to choose from while mixing things.

You now know about elements, and how elements can make compounds. There is one more thing for you to learn about, and that is mixtures. A mixture is when two compounds can be mixed together, but they can be drawn apart again. Imagine you have a glass of salt water. It might not be nice for you to have a drink of, but there could be a way that you could get the salt out. You might have heard about how water can evaporate and turn into steam when you boil the water. If you boil salt water, this will still happen - but the little grains of salt which made the water salty will remain there for you to look at.

When you are making a compound, the amount of atoms can matter if you want to make a certain reaction happen. Mixtures are different - you can have as much of the things you are mixing as you want. This means you could have plenty of salt in a small glass of water, or a small sprinkle of salt in a bucket of water - this is up to you.

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