Prove the Correct Order of Reactivity of Metals

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Prove the Correct Order of Reactivity of Metals


The aim of this experiment is to find a method of mathematically

analysing the order of metal reactivity. This involved finding a safe,

dependant variable which is numerically measurable. After testing all

the metals and measuring such a variable, is my hope to set all of the

metals into a proven, accurate order of activity.


Every element of the periodic table is made up of atoms. Each of the

atoms consists of subatomic particles which make up a nucleus and

outer orbits. The nucleus contains positively charged protons, and

neutrally charged neutrons. These make up the relative mass of the

atom. Orbiting the nucleus, attracted by the positive charge of the

protons, are the electrons. This are arranged in layers, called energy

levels, and have no mass. Only a certain number of electrons fit on

each energy level, and it is this which affects the reactivity of

certain materials and is also the way that the periodic table is


The number of electrons in the outer energy level is the group

in which the element is placed. The first level (nearest the nucleus)

will only hold 2 electrons, the second holds 8, and the third also

seems to be full when it has 8 electrons.

If all of the energy levels in the atom are full populated with

electrons, it is said to be stable, and in most cases, is therefore

unreactive. Examples of this include the noble (or inert) gases such

as neon or argon. However if the outer energy level of the atom is not

stable, it will automatically try to either gain or lose electrons to

become stable. This is achieved by an ionic reaction. Ionic bonding

occurs when the outer atoms of on material changes orbit and joins

another material for example: Sodium chloride

As you can see, sodium is a group one metal (it has one electron on

its outer energy level) so is therefore unstable. Chlorine on the

other hand is a group 7 element. It is much easier for sodium to lose

its outer electron to become stable, than it is for it to gain 7. The

same is true for the chlorine gaining 1 as opposed to losing seven.

Therefore the outer electron of the sodium switches orbits to the

chlorine. This creates a Na+ ion and a Cl- ion. Because opposites

attract, it means that the two substances create an ionic bond and

form sodium chloride!

Group one metals are the most reactive as they only have one, easily

removed, electron. However if you view the periodic table:
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