Lesson 2: Introduction to Metals

Getting Started

Elements on the periodic table fall into one of three categories: metals, metalloids, or nonmetals. Over the next two days, you will learn about metals. Metal atoms tend to line up and stick closely together, which gives many metals properties that are very different from metalloids and nonmetals. The majority of the elements on the periodic table are classified as metals. These include familiar metals like gold and silver as well as some elements you probably don't think of as metals, like potassium and calcium.

Stuff You Need

  • Fizz, Bubble, and Flash! by Anita Brandolini, Ph.D.
  • aluminum strip (kit)
  • blank paper
  • colored pencils
  • copper strip (kit)
  • dollar bill
  • glass or plastic cup
  • glue* (Activity 4 - Option 1)
  • iron strips (kit)
  • magazines or catalogs* (Activity 4 - Option 1)
  • neodymium magnet (kit)
  • periodic table of elements
  • permanent marker* (Activity 3 - optional)
  • protective gloves
  • scissors* (Activity 4 - Option 1)
  • solid antiperspirant
  • water and ice

* - denotes an optional material that may or may not be needed

Ideas to Think About

  • What properties do most metals have in common?
  • Why do metals have these properties?

Things to Know

  • Metals are elements whose atoms tend to line up and stick closely together. Many metals have luster (after they have been processed and cleaned), are malleable, and are good conductors of heat and electricity.
  • If a material is shiny, can reflect light, and be polished, it has the quality of luster.
  • If a material can be shaped or formed without breaking, it is described as being malleable. A material that is not malleable is described as brittle.
  • There are 6 categories of metals — the familiar transition metals and main-group metals; the less-familiar alkali metals, alkaline earth metals, and lanthanides; and the man-made and short-lived actinides.


  • Understand the difference between elements and compounds based on observation, description of physical properties, and chemical reactions. Elements are represented by chemical symbols, while compounds are represented by chemical formulas. (S)
  • Classify matter based on physical properties including mass. (S)
  • Understand that elements are classified as metals, nonmetals, and metalloids based on their physical properties. The elements are divided into three groups on the periodic table. (S)

Introducing the Lesson

Ask your child what he already knows about metals. In this lesson, he will explore some common properties of metals.
Reading and Questions
Materials: Fizz, Bubble, and Flash! by Anita Brandolini, Ph.D.
Watch the video for an overview of the three element categories (metals, nonmetals, and metalloids). Then read about main-group, transition, and lanthanide metals on pages 31, 40, 83, 100-102, and 116 of Fizz, Bubble, and Flash! Answer the questions.
Web Link

  1. What are the three main categories of elements on the periodic table?
    Metals, metalloids, and nonmetals.
  2. What are some properties of the main-group, transition, and lanthanide metals?
    Shiny, conduct heat and electricity, strong, heavy, solid.
  3. Name some main-group metals and transition metals that you can see from where you are sitting.
    Answers will vary.
  4. Name 3 familiar metals that belong to the transition metals category.
    Answers will vary but may include silver, copper, zinc, gold, iron, nickel, platinum, or mercury.