Word play chemistry

Available to buy online at: Visible Object

The Challenge

To create a traditional board game using the abbreviations of elements from Dmitri Mendeleev’s Periodic Table of Chemistry. Each element is represented by an abbreviation which is historically connected to its original naming. These are typically one or two letter combinations: Oxygen is O. Lead is Pb {based on the Latin word for Lead Plumbum} . Elements which have yet to be named, but are known to exist, have temporary names like Ununpentium {Uup}. In addition to explore possibility of making an online game, and other variations with a database of calculated words.  

Co-Sm-I-C  F-U-N

Alvin Toffler comments in The Third Wave that people (children) are three times more likely to learn and retain knowledge if they do so through playing games. The sciences can be fantastic fun and many children take naturally to these subjects when well taught. Elemensus provides an opportunity to approach ideas in chemistry, physics, astronomy, and language in a playful, fun way. It provides access to the Periodic Table and turns scientific discovery in Chemical Science into personal discovery of the Elements, their names, how they are labelled and how they might fit together.

Elemensus allows anyone to celebrate language in all its forms, and to playfully relive that we’re all made of Stars*. Every single element in our bodies has been created from the original BigBang and synthesised in the element factories we call stars and on Earth. Our nearest star is the S-U-N. By playing with the elements, making words and connections we can all explore the constituent parts of the Universe for life-long learning.

* The original Carl Sagan quote is usually “we’re all made of star stuff”.

Project Overview & Solutions

To think is to practice brain chemistry - Deepak Chopra

Game Summary

Designed by Tony Davis (with consultancy from Astrophysicist Dr. Edward Gomez) Elemensus™ is the perfect game for anyone who wants to play with words and chemistry. You don’t need any extra skills and it’s ideal for anyone over 7. Younger people find it easier than older people and can learn the Periodic Table Elements by osmosis. No special skills required. Designed for anyone who loves the interplay of Words & Chemistry from the classic Periodic Table.

The Box

You can see the final design of Elemensus™: the boxed version front and back. And this is what’s inside the box: 162 double-sided Element letter tiles, Orion Constellation Board, Elemensus tile trays, Rules sheet with a Periodic Table, Single Dice.

The Board

The board is based on a detailed image of the Orion constellation. The grid marks out the tile placement. The yellow highlight cross-hairs mark stars where players can start their Word Ne-B-U-La-S*. Anyone may start a new Ne-B-U-La on their turn if there are available Stars. Or if you are lucky enough to have the first element Hydrogen {H} then a player may place this anywhere on the grid.  {* For all you scientists out there used to Latin we do know that Nebulae might be expect here. The OED reckons both are acceptable so that’s good enough for us. This also allows us to show off using Neon-Boron-Uranium-Lanthanum-Sulfur to good effect}.

The Tiles

The double-sided tiles feature a full complement of Periodic Table elements (with extras of some elements) on one side. They are colour coded to match the Group classifications of elements. The Element name is visible, the abbreviation and the atomic number which acts as a positive score if used. The reverse of each tile has a full complement of A-Z tiles which represent undiscovered elements. These playfully represent the Dark Matter, which along with Dark Energy comprises a large percentage of the Universe. These tiles have negative atomic numbers and are subtracted from scores in play.


There are three main game plays: the main one is to make words using the Element tiles using either side of the tiles to score. Much higher scores result from using Element tiles – some of which are tantalisingly difficult (or are they…?).

Elemensus® – all the elements of a great board game. Why not play it periodically?

Website: Elemensus.com

Distribution: UK/Europe/ROW

Availability: Direct from the website and also Carus Publishing/Cricket (USA), Ocean Educational Direct (UK)

Trademarks: Elemensus® is a registered trademark of Tony Davis in EU, USA, Canada. All rights reserved.

Contact us if you have any comments about the work.

The Designs

The artist in me cries out for design - Robert Frost

Press & PR

Be careful - with quotations, you can damn anything. - André Malraux

This is so awesome!  I don’t even really play scrabble, but I want this

Tara Mulder

If you like Scrabble and you like #chemistry #science you’ll love Elemensus

Jennifer Ouellette, Blogger, Scientific American

an engaging game for the entire family and would make a fabulous classroom teaching tool

GrrlScientist - The Guardian

It’s hard to think of a more fun way to learn about elements than with the Elemensus


This is a fabulously intriguing, informative game that my children simply love

Craig Roberts - Head Teacher, Yorkshire, UK

Elemensus combines the best of word play and chemistry to challenge you like never BeFORe

Allison Sekuler - Neuroscientist, Canada

4.8 out of 5! Combines words with chemistry by osmosis. A great new way to explore and absorb the Periodic Table in a non-threatening way.

SEDL Science After School Consumers Guide

If you like building words out of letters in a game setting AND you love yer elements, then Elemensus: Periodic Table Spelling Board Game is the perfect game for you.


My boss loves the game, all the other buyers love the game. This is a game that rocks!

Chris Mindel - ThinkGeek, USA

It plays a lot like Scrabble, except you use symbols of the elements instead of just letters to form words. Plus the game board looks much cooler, because it has an image of the Orion constellation on it.

Lambert Varias

That’s one fun way to learn the Periodic Table

George Stroumboulopoulos, CBC Show, California

Have just been playing this and can confirm it’s the ideal present for the geek in your life.

Stephen Law - Philosopher

Sounds like a game that’d be perfect for a teaching aid!

Samantha Cooper

Elemensus has to be the best board-game ever for wordy science geeks everywhere. Think of it as the periodic table meets that “triple-word score” game we all know and love

David Bradley - Author, Deceived Wisdom

Vous en avez marre de l’éternel Scrabble de chez Mamie tous les dimanches? Mais vous ne savez pas sur quoi la brancher d’autre? Pas de soucis! Mettez la à la physique/Chimie avec cette merveilleuse idée de Scrabble en table périodique! 😉


Other Projects

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better - Ralph Waldo Emerson