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Helium
 
Element Rebus for Helium

HE-LI-UM

Chem4Kids Scientist Guy with Spiked Hair Let's finish off the top row of the periodic table with a short look at helium (He). You'll find it on the upper right of the table as element number two. It is the first in the family of noble gases. Helium is the other very simple element that you will find with one atomic orbital. The chemists Lockyear and Frankland named the element. They named it after the Sun and the Greek word "helios". Even when first discovered and identified, scientists knew there were large amounts of helium in the Sun.

Similar to hydrogen (H), helium is usually found as a gas and has no color or smell. Helium is found everywhere in the Universe and is the second most common element, just behind hydrogen. As far as we're concerned, helium is a "happy" element. It is inert, because its outermost electron orbital is full with two electrons. You can also find helium in compressed air tanks, lasers, and as coolants in nuclear reactors.

Where can you find helium?

Balloons
Balloons
Have you ever gotten a balloon as a present? You know how that balloon always tries to float away? That's because there is helium inside. Helium is a very light element. When you put it inside a balloon it tries to float.
Sun
The Sun
Helium is in the Sun. That's right. If you were to look at everything in the sun you would discover large amounts of helium. The Sun is a really big ball of gases and all those gases are on fire. One of the results of that fire is helium.
SCUBA Divers
Compressed Air Tanks
Whenever you see a SCUBA diver in the water, you should know that he has some helium in his air tank. Divers combine helium and regular air in those tanks at very high pressures. When they go deep in the water the helium makes it easier for them to breathe.
Lasers
Lasers
Sometimes helium is used in lasers. It's a good element to use because it is non-reactive. Even at really high temperatures helium will not bond with other elements.
Nuclear Reactor
Coolants
Nuclear Reactors use helium as coolant. When helium is in a liquid form it is a very low temperature. Because a reactor can be very hot, scientists need something very cool to keep everything under control.
Rocket Fuel
Rocket Fuel
Whenever you see NASA shoot a rocket into space they are using helium. When they launch rockets into space, they sometimes use helium to cool the engines.
Blimps
Blimps
Next time you go to a football game you might see a blimp. That blimp is using helium to stay up in the air. Helium is lighter than regular air so it helps things float. A blimp is filled with helium and floats for a very long time. They use propellers to move around.

> More about the orbitals and compounds of helium.

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