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What Are Metals?

A metal is a type of material that is typically shiny and is a good conductor of both heat and electricity. Metals are good conductors because the electrons in their atoms are easily shared with neighboring atoms. Chemists call this special kind of bonding between metal atoms "metallic bonding."

The metal elements make up about 95 of the known 118 elements. On the periodic table, they are located mostly on the left and in the middle. A few metal elements include iron (Fe), calcium (Ca), copper (Cu), nickel (N), gold (Au), and sodium (Na).

Top Facts About Metal for Kids

  • 1. Tungsten has the highest melting point of all metals.

    The metal element tungsten (W) melts at about 3,422°C (6,191°F). Iron, in comparison, has a melting point of only 1,538°C (2,800°F).

    This high melting point is part of the reason why tungsten is used in light bulbs. Thomas Edison discovered that, rather than melting from the high temperatures of the electricity passing through it, tungsten instead glows white hot.

  • 2. Gold can be hammered into sheets only a few atoms thick.

    Gold (Au) is the most malleable of all metals, meaning it can be beaten into thinner sheets than any other metal. Gold can be hammered relatively easily to a thickness of 100 nm (nanometers, or billionths of a meter).

    In 2019, researchers published a paper in the scientific journal Advanced Science where they described their success at creating a sheet of gold just 2 atoms thick!

Take the Quiz!

1. What is the chemical symbol for lead?

2. What is the most common metal on earth?

3. Out of these metals, which is the most reactive?

4. Which metal has the lowest melting point?

5. Bronze is a metal alloy, meaning it's a mixture of at least one metal and another metal or nonmetal. Which are they?

6. What percent gold is 14k gold?

7. What is the minimum amount of silver in sterling silver?

8. What metal is used as the filament in regular light bulbs?

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