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The column # of the periodic table tells you the number of electrons in the outer ring of the atoms in that column. Outer electrons are called "valence electrons". The last column (#8) holds the inert or noble gasses. Noble gasses won't react because their rings are full.

 

Lithium, and sodium, each have 1 outer electron and therefore, they have similar properties. For example, they are soft metals and they corrode easily in air.

 

               Lithium has 3 protons and 1 valence electron.

 

Sodium has 11 protons and 1 valence electron.

 

Likewise, because Beryllium, magnesium and calcium each have 2 valence electrons, they behave in similar ways.

The horizontal row tells you the number of rings in an atom.

The red number in the upper corner indicates number of protons in an atom. (It also tells the number of electrons in the neutral state.)

Go check out this periodic table!

Column number and corresponding charges

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Noble

+1

+2

+3

+-4

-3

-2

-1

0

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