Properties of Metals

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In this activity, learners explore the properties of metals at four stations. The stations include A) Magnetism and Breakfast Cereal; B) Conductivity of Metals; C) Alloys; and D) Metal Plating. The alloy station is a matching game where elements are combined to make alloys, and the other three are hands-on chemistry experiments. A final adult-led demonstration related to fireworks provides a dramatic conclusion to the lesson. This lesson-plan lays out a schedule for a full hour, but each activity station requires only about 10 minutes to complete. If time is limited, the activities can be used independently as mini-lessons or demonstrations. Safety note: the Metal Plating station involves lye and an open flame; adult supervision is recommended. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Game, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Container of iron-fortified cereal like “Total”
  • Plastic cup
  • Container of water
  • Small baggies to mix in
  • Small bar magnets
  • Various metallic and non-metallic objects
  • Plastic cups
  • Distilled water
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Gatorade
  • Food coloring
  • Amp meter
  • The yellow deck of cards (included in PDF) consists of 8 “alloy” cards. These cards list an alloy and its two main elemental constituents
  • The blue deck of cards (included in PDF) consists of 16 element cards (i.e. each of the two elements from the 12 alloys listed in the blue deck).
  • 9V battery
  • Light bulb
  • Wire
  • Metal and non-metal samples (i.e. plastic, pencil lead, glass, aluminum, copper, lead)
  • Zinc dust
  • Lye (a.k.a. Sodium hydroxide)
  • A glass beaker
  • Pennies
  • A hand-held torch
  • Small strip of magnesium
  • Spray bottles of solutions of various salts
  • Pencils
  • 5 large tables (~4’x3’ or larger!)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Circuits
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Solutions
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Elements and Periodic Table
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking
  • Games


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Chiu, Melanie ; Tsai, Andy ; Marsden, Peter ; College of Chemistry, U.C. Berkeley, Bergman Group


Funding Source:

  • Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation