The building blocks of matter are the elements. An element is a substance made up of only one type of matter. One element cannot be easily changed into another element. All known elements are organized according to their properties in a table called the periodic table of elements. “Periodic” means a repeating pattern. Elements are arranged in a pattern according to their properties. This pattern forms columns called groups.

Some of the names of elements come from Latin words that describe a property of the element. Some are named after the scientist who discovered them. Others are named after the place in which they were discovered. Each element has a standard shorthand symbol for its name.

Elements can be combined to form a mixture. In a mixture, two or more types of matter are mixed together and each keeps its own chemical properties. The ingredients of a mixture do not change their chemical properties. The parts of a mixture can be separated using their physical properties. These properties include size, shape, color, volume, density, and state.

One way to separate a mixture is to use a filter. A filter is a tool that separates things by size. Items that are smaller than the holes in the filter pass through it. Larger items are left behind. The type of filter used depends on the size of particles to be separated. Another way to separate a mixture is by evaporation. Evaporation is the change of a liquid to a gas. Substances evaporate at different temperatures.

Not all combinations of elements can be separated physically. A compound is a substance that forms when two or more elements are joined together and each element loses its own chemical properties. The properties of a compound are different from the properties of its elements. A compound can only be separated by chemical means. A mixture of two or more metals is called an alloy. The alloy has certain properties that each metal did not have in its pure form.

Knowing the properties of compounds and elements helped chemists to change, improve, and invent new foods, medicines, and other materials. Scientists also use chemistry to understand the world of living things and how the universe functions.

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