Molybdenum: Unveiling the Unsung Hero of Industry, Biology, and Beyond

Molybdenum, often symbolized as Mo, is an essential trace element that plays a significant role in the field of biology and chemistry. Although it may not be a household name, this element is exceedingly important in various industrial applications. In this article, we will delve into the world of molybdenum and explore ways to teach students about Mo effectively.

1. Understanding Molybdenum

– Introduce students to molybdenum by discussing its atomic number (42), atomic mass (95.95), and group 6 position in the periodic table.

– Highlight its transition metal properties, comparing them to similar elements within its group, such as chromium and tungsten.

– Explain that molybdenum has several stable oxidation states (+2, +3, +4, +5, and +6), which contribute to its versatile chemical properties.

– Discuss Mo’s importance in biology, particularly as a component of important enzymes like nitrogenase and xanthine oxidase.

2. Applications of Molybdenum

– Introduce students to various industrial applications of molybdenum, stressing its importance in steel production due to its high strength and corrosion resistance capabilities.

– Explain how Mo contributes to the production of electrical contacts and various filaments for different industries.

– Discuss its use in the manufacturing process of certain types of missiles and aircraft engines.

– Educate them on molybdenum’s role in agriculture as an essential nutrient found in trace amounts in plants and animals.

3. Teaching Techniques

– Use interactive teaching tools such as online quizzes or educational videos that focus on molybdenum’s unique characteristics for a more engaging experience.

– Encourage students to participate in classroom experiments showcasing processes that involve molybdenum or comparing oxidation states of various transition metals.

– Conduct group activities or projects where students are tasked with researching a specific application of molybdenum, and presenting their findings to the class.

– Invite guest speakers from industries that utilize molybdenum in their manufacturing processes, giving students a firsthand account of its importance in real-world applications.


Molybdenum is an influential element that may not get the attention it deserves. As educators, we should aim to enrich our students’ understanding of Mo’s relevance in various fields. By using interactive and engaging teaching methods, we can bring the exciting world of molybdenum to life for our students, helping them gain a deeper appreciation for this versatile trace element.

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