Use this Metals, Nonmetals, and Metalloids observation lab early-on in your exploration of the elements and the periodic table! Students do not need to know about atoms– they only need to know how to make observations and a general sense of the periodic table. Students will be making observations of the physical and chemical properties of 7 pure element samples, grouping them into categories, and classifying them as metals, non-metals, or metalloids.
There are two differentiated versions of this lab included. The pages with the GREEN CIRCLE indicate the lower-level version (for this version, students are given the names of the elements but they still make all of the same observations and try to sort the elements into categories of metals, non-metals, and metalloids based on the observed properties). The BLUE SQUARE indicates the version that is higher-level (for this version, students are NOT given the element names; they will make observations of ‘mystery’ samples and try to categorize them into metals, non-metals, and metalloids). I suggest using the blue square version with most students and the green circle version as a modification for some high schoolers or with certain middle school classes depending on their level.
You will need to gather element samples and some basic materials for each group of three students. I have written the Element Mat and Data Sheet to include aluminum, carbon, copper, magnesium, silicon, sulfur, and antimony so that there are two metalloids (silicon and antimony), but you could substitute another element like zinc if you do not have access to antimony. The editable file is included in the download so that you can change the elements if necessary.
You will also need a hydrochloric acid solution, a copper (II) chloride solution, a conductivity apparatus (wires with tiny light bulb attached), a nail, 7 small test tubes, a test tube rack, a Chemplate, and a small spatula/scoopula for each group.
The research boxes on the back of the Follow Up Questions are to allow students to follow their curiosities about different elements. I ask them to research 3 of the 4 elements from the lab and then choose another element of their choice to research.
If you are teaching an introductory unit on the elements and the periodic table, you may also be interested in these resources:
Periodic Personalities Graphic Organizer
Element Families of the Periodic Table Informational Text Activity
Bohr Diagrams Atom Manipulatives Activity
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