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Atoms and elements


Metals v non-metals

Remember that most elements are metals, rather than non-metals. The table summarises some differences in their properties.


Properties of metals and non metals

Property Metals Non-metals


Shiny Dull

State at room temperature

Solid (except mercury, which is a liquid) About half are solids, about half are gases, and one (bromine) is a liquid


High (they feel heavy for their size) Low (they feel light for their size)


Strong Weak

Malleable or brittle

Malleable (they bend without breaking) Brittle (they break or shatter when hammered)

Conduction of heat

Good Poor (they are insulators)

Conduction of electricity

Good Poor (they are insulators, apart from graphite)

Magnetic material

Only iron, cobalt and nickel None

Sound when hit

They make a ringing sound (they are sonorous) They make a dull sound

Telling them apart

Notice that metals and non-metals have opposite properties to each other. It is usually easy to tell metals and non-metals apart, but some tests are more reliable than others

For example using a magnet is not a good test to see if an element is a metal. That's because only three metals are magnetic, not all of them.



Atoms and elements activity

Brave the elements!



Use your knowledge to help Spherox find his way home.

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