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Skyscrapers, Neon Lights, and the Periodic Table - page 22 / 30





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Metals and Nonmetals

Real-World Question

Metals on asteroids appear attractive for min- ing to space programs because the metals are essential for space travel. An asteroid could be processed to provide very pure iron and nickel. Valuable by-products would include cobalt, platinum, and gold. How can miners determine if an element is a metal or a nonmetal?


  • Describe the appearance of metals and nonmetals.

  • Evaluate the malleability or brittleness of metals and nonmetals

  • Observe chemical reactions of metals and nonmetals with an acid and a base.

Materials (per group of 2–3 students)

10 test tubes with rack 10-mL graduated cylinder forceps or tweezers small hammer or mallet dropper bottle of 0.5M HCl dropper bottle of 0.1M CuCl2 test-tube brush

marking pencil 25 g carbon 25 g silicon 25 g tin 25 g sulfur 25 g iron

Safety Precautions


  • 1.

    Copy data table into your Science Journal. Fill in data table as you complete the lab.

  • 2.

    Describe in as much detail as possible the appearance of the sample, including color, luster, and state of matter.

  • 3.

    Use the hammer or mallet to determine malleability or brittleness.

  • 4.

    Label 5 test tubes #1–5. Place a 1-g sample of each element in separate test tubes. Add 5 mL of HCl to each tube. If bubbles form, this indicates a chemical reaction.

  • 5.

    Repeat step 4, substituting HCl with CuCl2. Do not discard the solutions immediately. Continue to observe for five minutes. Some of the changes may be slow. A chemical reaction is indicated by a change in appear- ance of the element.

Analyze Your Data

  • 1.

    Analyze Results What characteristics distin- guish metals from nonmetals?

  • 2.

    List which elements you discovered to be metals.

  • 3.

    Describe a metalloid. Are any of the elements tested a metalloid? If so, name them.

Metal and Nonmetal Data

Malleable Element Appearance or Brittle

Reaction wth HCl

carbon silicon tin sulfur iron

Do not write in this book.

Reaction with CuCl


Conclude and Apply

  • 1.

    Explain how the future might increase or decrease the need for selected elements.

  • 2.

    Infer why discovering and mining metals on asteroids might be an important find.



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