Chemistry KS3/KS4: Bronze - The first alloy

Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin - the first man-made alloy.

Materials scientist Mark Miodownik explains how bronze helped our early ancestors to progress quickly, improving technology and the chance to build but it also led to weapons that were more deadly too.

He begins his journey in the copper mines of an Israeli desert, examining how ancient man extracted copper from rocks.

He follows the quest to find stronger metals such as steel.

Teacher Notes

Ask students to explain why an alloy has different physical properties from those of the pure elements they are made from.

Following the clip, students could undertake the ‘turning copper coins gold’ experiment in which ‘copper’ coins are coated in zinc and then heated to produce brass.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching Chemistry at KS3 and GCSE Level. This topic appears in OCR, Edexcel, AQA, WJEC in England and Wales, CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland and SQA National 4 and 5 in Scotland.

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