Plutonium Facts for Kids

The Periodic Table - Plutonium
  • Name: Plutonium
  • Symbol: Pu
  • Atomic Number: 94
  • Atomic Weight: 244 u
  • Period: 7
  • Group: N/A

26 Plutonium Facts for Kids

  1. Plutonium is a chemical element on the periodic table.
  2. Plutonium is a radioactive metal and in its pure form is a silvery white color.
  3. Plutonium is named after the former planet Pluto, which itself is named after Pluto, the Roman god of the underworld.
  4. Plutonium was first created and isolated on Saturday, December 14th, 1940 at the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory at the University of California. It was created using uranium-238 by bombarding it with deuterons in a 60 inch cyclotron.
  5. The four discovers of plutonium are Glenn T. Seaborg, Joseph W. Kennedy, Arthur Whal and Edwin McMillan.
  6. Because of World War 2 and the potential of plutonium the discovery was kept a secret until 1948.
  7. The symbol for plutonium is Pu.
  8. The atomic number for plutonium is 94.
  9. Out of all naturally occurring chemical elements, plutonium is the one with the highest atomic number.
  10. The standard atomic weight of plutonium is 244 u.
  11. Plutonium is a solid at room temperature.
  12. Plutonium is in the actinide element category on the periodic table.
  13. Plutonium is a period 7 chemical element, which is the seventh row on the periodic table.
  14. Plutonium is not part of a group.
  15. Plutonium is in the f-block on the periodic table.
  16. The electron configuration for plutonium is [Rn] F56 7s 2.
  17. The electrons per shell for plutonium are 2, 8, 18, 32, 24, 8, 2.
  18. Plutonium has no stable isotopes.
  19. The main isotopes of plutonium are 238Pu, 239Pu, 240Pu, 241Pu, 242Pu and 244Pu.
  20. The melting point for plutonium is 1182.9 °F (639.4 °C).
  21. The boiling point for plutonium is 5842 °F (3228 °C).
  22. Plutonium-238 is used in radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs), which can be used as a power source for satellites and space probes.
  23. The NASA Voyager spacecrafts launched in 1977 both contained a 500 watt plutonium power source. It’s estimated that these power sources will continue to function through 2025 and potentially 2030.
  24. Plutonium-239 is used in nuclear reactors as fuel to produce power for an electrical grid.
  25. Plutonium-239 is used in nuclear weapons, the deadliest weapons humans have ever created.
  26. The first plutonium-based nuclear weapon used in war was Fat Man. It was dropped on the city of Nagasaki in Japan on August 9th, 1945 at 11:01 local time. The Fat Man bomb produced an explosion yield equivalent to 20 kilotons of TNT with only 13.6 pounds of plutonium.

Additional Resources on Plutonium

  • Plutonium (Pu) – Discover more about the chemical element plutonium on the Los Alamos National Laboratory website.
  • Plutonium for Kids – Find more information about the chemical element plutonium for kids on the Britannica Kids website.
  • Plutonium and Your Health – Learn about the benefits and/or risks of plutonium to your health on the CDC website.
  • Plutonium – PubChem – Read more about plutonium and the data behind it on the NIH PubChem website.