MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection > MnSTEP Activities > Trends on the Periodic Table: Metals, Non-Metals, and Metalloids

Trends on the Periodic Table: Metals, Non-Metals, and Metalloids

Pam Fier-Hansen, Marshall High School, Marshall, MN, based on a lab from Glencoe Chemistry Concepts and Applications.
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In this lab activity, students will be asked to observe and then test the properties of several different elements. In their observations they will be looking for the physical state, whether it is shiny or dull, and whether it appears malleable or brittle. For some of the elements they will also test the conductivity, malleability, and reactivity with dilute acid. From their data, they classify each element as a metal, a non-metal or a metalloid.
There results will be color coded on a periodic table (e.g. Blue for metals, yellow for non-metals, and green for metalloids). They will use this to determine trends for metallic properties of the elements.

Learning Goals

1. To become familiar with the properties of metals, non-metals and metalloids.
2. To discover the arrangement of metals, non-metals and metalloids on the periodic table.
3. To observe trends for the metallic properties of elements.

Observation, classification and analysis skills will be developed.
1. Metals tend to be shiny, hard, malleable and good conductors of electricity. They are located on the left side of the periodic table.
2. Non-metals can be solids, liquids, or gases. If they are solid, they tend to be brittle. They are poor conductors. They are located on the right side of the periodic table.
3. Metalloids combine some of the properties of metals and not-metals and are located between them on the periodic table.


Context for Use

This is a lab activity for a high school introductory chemistry laboratory. It can be used as an introduction to the periodic table. It requires samples of elements (see list in the handout), micro-conductivity testers (made from a nine-volt batteries, LED and wires), dilute HCl and hammers. It requires approximately 60-75 minutes of class time. It could easily be adapted for use in a physical science course

Subject: Chemistry:General Chemistry:Elements & Periodic Table
Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity
Grade Level: High School (9-12)

Description and Teaching Materials

This lab activity will be used to have students discover the location of metals, non-metals and metalloids on the periodic table. Before starting the lab, we will review the properties of each group. Students will be given the student handout (attached) and asked to write the experiment up in their lab notebooks. Students will work in pairs or small groups and will rotate through the observation, conductivity, malleability and reactivity stations until they have completed all the stations. The stations can be completed in any order. After they have completed their observations, they will determine if each element that they tested is a metal, non-metal or metalloid based on their observations. They will label each of these elements on a blank periodic table and color each group a different color. They will use this information to answer the analysis questions at the end of the lab. After everyone has completed the write-up, we will compare our results with the book classification and location of these elements.

This is a copy of the student handout of the lab. It includes the materials in it. A copy is also attached in the documents.
Periodic Table Lab:

To investigate the properties of several elements on the periodic table and classify them as metals, non-metals or metalloids.

Pre-lab Questions:
In you lab notebook, draw the following table. Write each of the following properties under the appropriate heading. Write the whole property, not just the letter of the property.

a. good conductor of heat
b. poor conductor of heat (insulator)
c. semi conductor
d. shiny, high luster
e. solids tend to be dull
f. malleable
g. brittle
h. ductile
i. good conductor of electricity
j. poor conductor of electricity

For the observation stations you should prepare sealed test tubes containing the following elements:
copper, silicon, magnesium, carbon, nickel, aluminum, zinc, sulfur, oxygen, lead, bismuth, silver, nitrogen, antimony, and hydrogen
For the conductivity station, you should have plastic dishes with one piece of each element to be tested and micro-conductivity testers.
For the malleability station, have one piece of each element per group along with paper towels and hammers.
For the reactivity station, have one piece of each element per group, 9 test tubes, test tube rack and 1 M HCl.

1. In your lab notebook, draw a table like the one shown below.
2. Observe the appearance of each of the elements. Record physical state, color, luster and other observable characteristics.
3. Using the micro-conductivity tester, determine whether the elements conduct electricity. If you observe carefully, you might see that some are semi-conductors.
4. To determine which elements are malleable, place a single piece of the element on a paper towel, and gently tap it with a hammer. An element is brittle if it shatters when it is hit. An element is malleable if it flattens when it is tapped.
5. To test the reactivity with 1 M HCl, label 9 test tubes with the symbols for each element. Add 5 ml of the acid to each tube. Then add a small sample (approx 0.1 gram) of each element to the labeled tubes. Formation of bubbles of hydrogen is evidence that a reaction is occurring. (Note: not all reactions are vigorous, so watch closely)

Element Appearance Conductivity Malleability Reactivity with HCL Non-metal Metal or Metalloid

For the following elements, try to decide if they are a metal, non-metal or metalloid based on their appearance.
Element Appearance Non-metal Metal or Metalloid

On the blank periodic table, label the elements that we tested in lab. From your observations label them as metal, non-metal or metalloid. Color each group (metals, non-metals and metalloids) a different color.

Analyze and conclude:
Answer the following questions in your lab notebook. Use summary sentences.

1. Which elements displayed characteristics of metals?
2. Where are the metals located on the periodic table?
3. Which elements displayed characteristics of non-metals?
4. Where are the non-metals located on the periodic table?
5. Which elements displayed some characteristics of metals and some of non-metals?
6. Do metallic characteristics of elements seem to increase from left to right or right to left?
7. Do metallic characteristics seem to increase from top to bottom or bottom to top? Periodic Table lab- Student handout (Microsoft Word 48kB Aug24 07)

Teaching Notes and Tips

It works well to set this lab up in stations. I divide the lab into observation, conductivity, malleability and reactivity stations. Groups rotate through each station. If you are doing this experiment with younger students, you might want to do the reactivity with 1 M HCl as a demonstration. For the analysis, I give the students a blank periodic table. They label it with the elements that they test. Based on what they have observed, I have them determine whether each element is a metal, non-metal or metalloid.

I am also going to try to have the students discover where metals, non-metals and metalloids are located on the periodic table.


Two methods of assessment will be used. The first is general questioning of the students while they are performing the lab. The formal evaluation will occur when I grade the lab write-up in their lab notebooks.


9-12 IIA4 -Nature of Matter

References and Resources