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Wayne State students construct world’s largest periodic table on campus

It’s also the 150th anniversary of the very first periodic table

From high above, blue tarps with the chemical elements painted in each square.
Aerial view of the periodic table on WSU’s campus.
Jeff Keene, Wayne State University

This week, students at Wayne State University’s Department of Chemistry, along with other college university clubs, set the record for building the world’s largest periodic table.

The 195,000-square-foot table depicting the chart of chemical elements was constructed out of 30-by-40-foot sections of blue tarp. It also required 95 gallons of paint, 250 volunteers, and around 7,000 garden stakes, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The project, which sits at a university field near Warren and Trumbull avenues, was a collaboration with student chemistry clubs from UM-Dearborn, UM-Flint, University of Detroit Mercy, and Lawrence Tech.

“Our volunteers have been amazing,” Sue White, a lab manager in Wayne State’s Department of Chemistry, said in a release. “Students from all five participating universities have been painting these elements on Sundays for 12 to 14 hours per day.”

The table was unveiled on Mole Day, celebrated annually on October 23. The day commemorates “Avogadro’s Number” (6.02 x 10^23), which is an important figure in chemistry. UNESCO also designed 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table—Dmitri Mendeleev published the first recognizable periodic table 150 years ago.

Once dismantled, WSU says the tarps will be donated to hurricane affected areas for additional home protection.

Wayne State University

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