This project started in my senior year of high school when I visited Griffith Observatory in California. There they had 118 boxes organized into a periodic table with samples of the elements inside. I had seen photos of periodic table displays before but seeing one in person filled me with an unspeakable joy. At that moment, I knew I had to build my own, so I talked to my teachers about it and with their support, secured funding from my school’s alumni association. I built the display in my spare time over the course of six months (a little longer than I expected), collecting samples along the way. The completed display measures 2.8 m long by 1.9 m tall and features 126 samples of pure elements, their compounds, and everyday objects showing them in use. My favorite sample is an infrared lens made from solid germanium sent to me by an optics manufacturer. I will never forget turning it over in my hands, wanting to hold onto it a little longer before putting it in the display. Working on this project was a truly remarkable experience, and I hope it brings students the same sense of wonderment and awe I felt that day at Griffith observatory.
More photos of samples in the display can be found here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B0g-scbB9ttKWUU5LXpKMm1NY00?usp=sharing