Project Details IUPAC100 Periodic Table Challenge

Project No.:
Start Date:
01 December 2017
End Date:
15 January 2020


The year 2019 marks 100th anniversary of IUPAC and 150th anniversary of the Periodic Table. The IUPAC Centenary is a prime opportunity to reflect on the value and work that is carried by the IUPAC. While doing so, one can not only inform the audiences of the variety of IUPAC activities but do so in a manner that covers each and every decade, not just the recent years.

Given the anniversary of the Periodic Table and its central role in chemistry, this project seeks to create an online global competition centered on the Periodic Table and IUPAC. The objective of the project is to promote IUPAC role in shaping the global affairs of chemistry through a competitive online quiz. With this global activity, we aim at reaching a global audience of young students in a way that will be attractive to them, cost-effective to IUPAC, and that will give visibility to the work that IUPAC has been doing over the last 100 years.


Periodic Table trivia abound the internet (see just to give an example).

This competition, however, will not be about the Periodic Table. A major distinction from other online trivia/quizzes is that at the core of each question will not be a chemical element but rather IUPAC activity. A detailed description/answer will be provided every time a question is answered. This will provide with an opportunity to inform global audience about the activities of IUPAC and its role in chemistry, and about the volunteer scientists who helped to shape the chemistry.

As an example, one question related to the theme of naming new chemical elements, might be as follows:
Chemical elements are named after countries (francium), deities (thorium), scientists (curium), or cities (moscovium). Which of these proposals is not allowed?
a. Naming after a still living scientist
b. Naming after an extinct animal
c. Naming after the Pope
d. Naming after another element
The answer will explain how IUPAC sets the standards for naming chemical elements will provide a link to the actual documents and news clipping, and it will show, of course, what the correct answer is. The aim is therefore with each question to provide with the opportunity to explain the role of IUPAC in setting global uniform standards and practices in chemistry.

The content of the challenge will be centered around 20 key questions each of which exemplifying a core IUPAC activity (for example, naming elements, setting standard atomic weights, issuing nomenclature rules and so on). During the first stage of the Project, the Task Group will work closely with all IUPAC Division Presidents and IUPAC Secretariat to distill the core messages. The 20 core messages then will each be reshaped into a form of five questions. This way, the challenge will have 100 questions and each respondent will experience 20 questions (drawn randomly, one for each of the core messages). Students will be able to forgo the standard 20-question competition in favor of a ‘platinum’ 100-question marathon.

This project will utilize the lessons learned from the 2011 Global Water Experiment and create a successful global activity for IUPAC100:
1. People are naturally drawn to compete, especially students. This project will rank the schools according to the number of correct answers from their students.
2. At the end of the challenge, every participant will get a certificate (pdf) indicating his/her score.

A major difference with other trivia/quizzes is that a full answer will be provided every time a question is answered. This gives the opportunity to include information about the IUPAC activities, about the key role of Chemistry in our lives, and those scientists who helped to shape it.


Project announcement published in CI Apr 2018, p. 39 <>
Questions/suggestions, contact the IUPAC100 PT Challenge team at <[email protected]>

Here is your chance to contribute to the development of the IUPAC100 Periodic Table Challenge by submitting at least one set of questions & answers > ENTER the submission from


Dec 2018 update: The website with the challenge will go live on 8 January 2019. The challenge will have two rounds, the first one will consist of an on-line quiz with 20 multiple choice questions. A participant has 60 minutes to answer the questions so will have time to consult internet resources, and that way learn interesting facts about the elements in the periodic table. A participant scoring more than 60% of the questions correctly can proceed to the second round. This round has been dubbed ‘the Nobelium round’. In this round participants are asked to make a product that demonstrates why a particular element is special to them. This product may be a short story, a painting, or some type of object. The products will be displayed on the website. There will be a jury, as well as a popular vote for this round.

> See

Jan 2019 update:
The challenge platform was launched on 8 Jan 2019;
Here are the stats from Week 1:
– People have played as all 118 elements
– from 83 countries (including 42 US states)
– with 10 000 tests taken
– 1400 certificates issued
– 200 perfect tests
– and 5 nobelium entries
The average score is around 30% and has not changed since day 1 so the intense gamers do not seem to affect the overall numbers so far.

In one week the challenge has reached more countries than IUPAC’s formal membership itself. Even Africa is getting participation among many other countries.

See for regular updates and announcements of the Winners of the Nobelium Contest.

Jan 2020 update: The Challenge ran throughout the 2019 and attracted over 10 000 unique players from all continents and 136 countries. Such a global reach and exposure to IUPAC is significant when compared to its 50+ IUPAC National Adhering Organizations. It quite literally brought the world to the IUPAC. Based on the success of the IUPAC100 PT Challenge, a project will aim at extending this activity. It is intended that the IUPAC Periodic Table Challenge will become a permanent feature of IUPAC and serve as an entry point to IUPAC for many students and educators worldwide. A detailed report is being prepared and will be published in Chemistry International.

Apr 2020 update: See CI report <>

Page last updated 27 May 2020