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Sodium
 
Chalkboard with description of periodic table notation for sodium.  There is a square with three values in it.  Top has atomic number, center has element symbol, and bottom has atomic mass value.  The atomic number equals number of protons and also the number of electrons in a neutral atom.  Atomic mass equals the mass of the entire atom.

Check out the blackboard. That box on the left has all of the information you need to know about one element. It tells you the mass of one atom, how many pieces are inside, and where it should be placed on the periodic table.

In the next section we're going to cover electron orbitals or electron shells. This may be a new topic to some of you.

Electrons In The Shells

Take a look at the picture below. Each of those colored balls is an electron. In an atom, the electrons spin around the center, also called the nucleus. The electrons like to be in separate shells/orbitals. Shell number one can only hold 2 electrons, shell two can hold 8, and for the first eighteen elements shell three can hold a maximum of eight electrons. As you learn about elements with more than eighteen electrons you will find that shell three can hold more than eight. Once one shell is full, the next electron that is added has to move to the next shell.

So... for the element of SODIUM, you already know that the atomic number tells you the number of electrons. That means there are 11 electrons in a sodium atom. Looking at the picture, you can see there are two electrons in shell one, eight in shell two, and only one in shell three.

Sodium Orbital GraphicSodium Electron List

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Examples of Compounds with Sodium

Sodium Chloride

This is sodium chloride, also known as table salt. Most people scientist know that the formula for salt is NaCl. One sodium (Na) atom gives it's electron to one chlorine (Cl) atom. Chlorine then has the eight electrons in its outer shell to make it "happy". Sodium is "happy" because it has now given up its one extra electron.

NaCl
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NaCl
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NaCl

Sodium Oxide

So now you have Na2O. When sodium (Na) atoms bond with one oxygen (O) atom, there have to be two sodium atoms, each with an extra electron. Each of these sodium atoms gives oxygen one electron, allowing oxygen to have a full shell with eight electrons. See how the electrons are shared?

Na2O
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Na2O
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Na2O


 
RELATED LINKS
- Chem4Kids: Periodic Table
- Chem4Kids: Atoms
- Chem4Kids: Compounds
- Chem4Kids: Alkali Metals
- Chem4Kids: Lithium
- Chem4Kids: Chlorine
- Chem4Kids: Chemical Bonds
- Geography4Kids: Composition of Earth
- Geography4Kids: Seawater

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