Elements from the Punitentiary

In honor of my husband’s retirement at the end of this school year, I am sticking with the pun theme today, but in a specialized way. For the last thirty years, John has given this “test” to his chemistry classes on a day when they all need a change of pace. Some kids love it and groan loudly every time they figure one out. Others, of course, declare it to be stupid. I’m sure you know which group I would be in.

John believes that students need to learn how to think deeply and be able to figure things out, both in the class room and in the lab–that’s how he teaches. He also understands that everyone comes at things from different angles, so he works to give every kind of mind a chance to find success. He has been loved and respected by his students, and I am very proud of him.

Back to the punitentiary … John doesn’t remember where he got this test many years ago, so I can’t credit the source. I invite you to study the Periodic Table and see if you can figure out the elements that match up with the descriptions. If you get stuck, say the element names out loud.



Use the names of elements as synonyms or substitute for some phrases. So cesium your pen and fill in the blanks.

  1. What doctors are for  __________
  2. Policeman __________________
  3. Have went (very poor grammar) ___________________
  4. Indian funeral chant  ____________________________
  5. A motto for a well-digging company _________________
  6. Get him ____________________
  7. Holmium X 0.5 =  ____________
  8. Chemical Apache ____________
  9. To press a shirt ______________
  10. Directed (past tense) __________
  11. A kitchen work area with a drain ___________________
  12. A ship’s kitchen ______________
  13. The leg joint above the calf _______________________
  14. What police do to a bookie joint ___________________
  15. A cowboy’s cry after successfully riding a bronco: “I ___________________.”
  16. An amusing prisoner __________
  17. Ruler of Davy Jones’ locker _______________________
  18. A large building used to store automobiles ___________
  19. The last words of a dying man _____________________
  20. The Lone Ranger’s horse ________
  21. A tomb _____________________
  22. What is often done to stores during a riot ____________
  23. The name applied to a blond person from Sweden, Norway, or Finland ________________
  24. What do you do before you brand a steer? ___________
  25. The name of a red flower ________
  26. An officer in the army __________ (second time for this element)
  27. Someone who gives to charity ____________________ (Biblical: one who stops to help a fellow traveler)
  28. Mickey Mouse’s dog ___________
  29. A 2000-pound casket __________ (second time for this element)
  30. “___________________________ anything, but give them Arpege.”
  31. The United States  _____________
  32. View by a boy whose name is Cal. __________________ (monstrous pun)
  33. What you do to steak when you barbecue it __________
  34. Cow hide used as a carpet _____________________ion
  35. Funds from mother’s sister ____________________
  36. Opposite of hot _____________________________





  1. Curium CM or Helium He
  2. Copper Cu
  3. Argon Ar
  4. Barium Ba
  5. Boron B
  6. Cesium Ce
  7. Hafnium Hf
  8. Indium In
  9. Iron Fe
  10. Lead Pb
  11. Zinc Zn
  12. Gallium Ga
  13. Neon Ne
  14. Radium Ra
  15. Rhodium Rh
  16. Silicon Ai
  17. Neptunium Np
  18. Carbon X
  19. Iodine I
  20. Silver Ag
  21. Krypton Kr
  22. Lutetium Lu
  23. Scandium Sc
  24. Europium Eu
  25. Germanium Ge
  26. Lutetium Lu
  27. Samarium Sm
  28. Plutonium Pu
  29. Krypton Kr
  30. Promethium Pm
  31. Americum Am
  32. Calcium Ca
  33. Cerium Ce
  34. Flourine F
  35. Antimony Sb
  36. Gold Au


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