Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 7, NO. 12 / APRIL 1989

Type-In Software


Periodic Madness

Chemistry tutoring from your Atari. By Marc LeBeau

Brush up on the elements and their chemical symbols with this three-part quiz based on the periodic table of the elements. This BASIC program works on 8-bit computers with at least 48K, disk or cassette.

Recent studies have shown that the children of the United States are far behind children in other countries in their knowledge of science. This may become a major problem for us in the next century if something is not done soon. Who will discover new cures for diseases? Who will develop the new materials for the cars, rockets, or even computers of the 21st century?

Periodic Madness may not solve all these problems, but it's a start. By playing with this program, young people can learn about a basic scientific tool while enjoying a challenging game. Chemistry students will find it an excellent way to brush up on the elements and their symbols.


Chemistry provides a good, general introduction to science. It involves many other disciplines, applying both mathematics and the laws of physics. Chemistry also plays a vital role in the biological sciences--scientists are discovering more and more about the chemical basis of life. From medicines to building materials, chemicals play an important part in our daily lives.

This program has three quizzes based on the periodic table of the elements, one of the first things taught in basic chemistry classes. The periodic table is a primary tool of chemistry, containing a wealth of important information. For example, from the periodic table we can find the symbol used to represent each element.

Most people know that H2O represents water. Chemistry uses many such formulas to describe the molecules that make up the world around us. These symbols make up a second language that chemists (and other scientists) must understand. Learning to associate "H" with "Hydrogen" is a first step in understanding chemistry.

Another vital piece of information that can be obtained from a periodic table is the atomic mass of each element. Knowing these masses lets chemists calculate how much of a certain element is in a mixture or compound.


Type in listing 1, PERIODIC.BAS, check it with TYPO II and be sure to SAVE a copy before you RUN it.

The program begins by displaying an outline of a periodic table. It will then prompt you for the skill level at which you wish to play. The questions are all multiple choice. Even so, if you're unfamiliar with the periodic table, it would be a good idea to look it over first.

In level one you are given the symbol and must choose the element it stands for. All the answers in level one are actual elements. The only trick questions on this level are those the periodic table provides itself--such as Au for gold, or K for potassium.

Level two goes the opposite way. You are given the element and must choose the correct symbol. Beware: In this section many of the symbols are made up and don't actually represent any elements.

Level three is definitely the hardest. You are given the element's name and must choose (or guess) the correct atomic mass. Even the best chemists will have some trouble with this one! Since the mass is related to the element's position in the table, this will quickly help players learn to visualize the elements' positions in the table.

Questions are presented in random order. Each test will quiz you on all the elements. If you miss a question, the program will repeat it until you answer correctly twice.

After you've completed each skill level, you are given a rating based upon the percentage you got right. These ratings range from FANTASTIC to YOU BETTER TRY AGAIN!

Marc LeBeau is a Graduate Assistant at the University of New Haven in Connecticut. With bachelor degrees in both Chemistry and Criminal Justice he is currently working on his masters degree in Criminalistics. This is his first appearance in Antic.

Listing: PERIODIC.BAS Download