Elemental Superheroes and Supervillains!

Time Required: Three 40-minute sessions
Skill Level: Intermediate
Recommended Grades: 6th to 8th

In this activity, students will creatively explore elements in the periodic table. Students will work in pairs to design their own 3Doodler contour superhero or supervillain mask, which embodies the qualities and associations of their assigned periodic element.

Note: Any links outside of the3doodler.com are optional resources. We can’t ensure their upkeep or accuracy.

Lesson Plan



Have each pair of students bring in 1 styrofoam head.

Step 2

Project your tablet or computer screen on the board to display a Periodic Table.

Step 3

Share the goal: Students will be doodling a contour superhero mask to represent a periodic table element. They will also decorate a styrofoam head to go with their elemental-superhero.

Step 4

Whole group: Discuss some of the properties of the periodic elements and how they correlate with the powers of superheroes. Examples: Calcium strengthens bones and is found in milk. Arsenic is toxic and oftentimes found in rat poison.

Step 5

Ask students to imagine how these properties could be translated into superhero or villain powers. Examples: Calcium Man could have really strong bones and be unbreakable. While Arsenic Al could be deadly and look like a rat!

Step 6

Ask students to imagine how the masks of Calcium Man and/or Arsenic Al should be designed. Examples: Calcium Man has a mask that looks like a skull. Arsenic Al's mask might look like a rat with whiskers.

Step 7

Show students images from this lesson for Phosphorous Gal, but don't tell them which element the mask represents. Ask them to figure it out. What clues gave it away? Note that the symbol for Phosphorus was not incorporated into the mask.

Step 8

Instruct students to design a stencil for their assigned element's mask, which incorporates 3-5 qualities or associations with their element. The stencil will need to be taped and doodled against a contoured object. The mask must fit the styrofoam head, so take measurements first. Once the masks are affixed to the styrofoam head, pass out the 3Doodlers for the students to use.


● Outline areas first before filling. Section off larger areas to fill more easily.
● Lighter objects may be welded to the mask, e.g., toothpicks or gems.
● Have students visit Hero Machine for inspiration.

Step 9

Students may use any craft materials, such as hats or wigs (from home) to decorate their styrofoam head, which will go with their assigned element's superhero theme. They may NOT use the symbol or name of their element in the mask or head.

Step 10

Students will write a riddle that offers clues for others to guess their elemental superhero or villain.

Wrap Up

Students will share their 3Doodler elemental superhero masks with the class for others to guess, as well as on Twitter. @3Doodler #3DoodlerEDU


The teacher will assess students' work throughout the process, as well as by the final product, i.e., contour superhero mask, styrofoam head decorations, and riddle.

Possible Extensions

Students complete a full costume for their elemental superhero and discuss their importance to the class in the form of a persuasive essay which begins "_______ is the most important element because..." Students draw a cartoon strip to go with their elemental hero or villain that illustrates their power(s) in action.


  • chemistry - the science that deals with the composition and properties of substances and various elementary forms of matter.

  • collaboration - to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor.

  • element - one of a class of substances that cannot be separated into simpler substances by chemical means.

  • metaphor - a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.

  • periodic table - a table illustrating the periodic system, in which the chemical elements, formerly arranged in the order of their atomic weights and now according to their atomic numbers, are shown in related groups.

  • personification - the attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman.

  • problem-solving - the process or act of finding a solution to a problem.

  • property - an essential or distinctive attribute or quality of a thing.

  • science - a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws.

  • superhero - a hero, especially in children's comic books and television cartoons, possessing extraordinary, often magical powers.

Educational Standards

Common Core

Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).

In This Lesson

Students will research qualities and associations with their elements, i.e., products which incorporate this element, in order to design a superhero or villain mask and styrofoam head, which incorporates these qualities or associations.

Common Core

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.

In This Lesson

Students will cite sources used to research qualities and associations of their element.

Next Gen Science
MS-PS1- 1

Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.

In This Lesson

Students will work with a partner to create a model of their element in the form of a mask and styrofoam head, and both will integrate qualities or associations of the given element.

CS Teachers

Decompose (break down) a larger problem into smaller sub-problems with teacher guidance or independently.

In This Lesson

Students will break down the process of researching, analyzing and synthesizing their element into a doodled mask and styrofoam head that exemplify qualities and associations of their element.


Use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.

In This Lesson

Students will use the 3Doodler to design a model of their element in the form of a mask.


Create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.

In This Lesson

Students will use a 3Doodler to create an original mask which exemplifies qualities or associations of their element.


Use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.

In This Lesson

Students will seek feedback from a partner during all stages of the design and reflection process.

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