To mark the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT), the Royal Society of Chemistry led and supported community activities, educational initiatives and celebratory events globally in 2019

By focusing on the 150th anniversary of Dmitri Mendeleev’s formation of an iconic image of chemistry – and an enduring, vital tool to all who learn and work in science – we united our profession, members and our communities through hundreds of exciting and diverse IYPT activities. From public lectures and outreach events to teacher resources and grants for member networks, themed journals and books, the RSC worked to inspire people of all ages, experience and backgrounds to engage with the periodic table of elements.

Chemical facade

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To mark November’s Chemistry Week, the RSC projected periodic table-themed imagery onto university facades in the UK and Ireland.

An image showing the IYPT Projection

Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry

The RSC’s scarce elements campaign projected onto the University of Nottingham

An image showing the IYPT projection

Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry

Martyn Poliakoff is a research professor of chemistry at the University of Nottingham

An image showing the IYPT projection

Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry

Chemistry Week branding projected onto the wall of the University of Southampton

1001 inventions

The RSC sponsored a four-day exhibition 1001 Inventions: Journeys from Alchemy to Chemistry.

My favourite

Source: Royal Society of Chemistry/Rhys Thwaites-Jones

1001 Inventions is making chemistry interactive

IYPT roundup - pupils attended data

Held at Burlington House in December 2019, its overarching objective was to spark children’s interest in science. The event’s live shows and activities were also designed to inspire passion for creativity and learning while promoting diversity and intercultural appreciation.

An image taken at the periodic table exhibition

Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry

Artefacts from The Story of the Periodic Table exhibition at Burlington House in London

An image showing members of the public at the IYPT exhibition

Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry

The RSC’s exhibition featured old and new exhibits related to the IYPT

Telling the tale of the periodic table

An exhibition featuring rare artefacts on loan from the University of Cambridge’s St Catharine’s College and Scotland’s University of St Andrews was held at the RSC’s Burlington House in London during August.

IYPT roundup - exhibition visitors data

The Story of the Periodic Table exhibition contrasted modern and old exhibits, including a unique classroom periodic table printed in the late 19th century and the EuChemS periodic table. The RSC’s annual Open House, held at Burlington House the following month, was themed around the IYPT to mark the significance of the periodic table.

An image showing the St Andrews University periodic table

Source: Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library

A unique classroom periodic table printed in the late 19th century

Scarce elements and sustainability

The BBC covered the RSC campaign about the importance of preserving scarce elements in electrical devices – with our story rated the third most-read on the BBC website on launch day.

The BBC’s Jeremy Vine and its Today Programme, Radio 1 and BBC Breakfast teams backed the campaign, along with a number of specialist sustainability and science media outlets. 

An image showing a discussion about the periodic table

Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry/Piers MacDonald

Periodic table discussion at the Royal Institute in London

As part of the campaign, the RSC hosted a panel discussion exploring precious elements in electronic devices in collaboration with the Royal Institution in London.

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Panellists – including University College London professor and Chemistry World  columnist Andrea Sella, University of Northampton professor Margaret Bates, Manchester Metropolitan University lecturer Tim Gabriel, Janet Gunter from The Restart Project and BBC science correspondent Victoria Gill – discussed the design, development and disposal strategies for a sustainable future.

An image taken at a IYPT lecture

Source: © Drew Forsyth/Science Museum Group

Peter Sadler, professor of chemistry at the University of Warwick, lectures in celebration of the IYPT

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An image showing children throwing periodic table hats

Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry/Steve Lake

Schoolchildren from St Margaret Clitherow Roman Catholic Primary School, Stevenage, Hertfordshire tossing their periodic table coloured caps 

IYPT roundup - grants to individuals data