Teaching Students About Whether Tungsten Is a Metal, Nonmetal, or Metalloid


As students embark on their journey to learn about the periodic table of elements, one of the most common questions they’ll encounter is whether a particular element is a metal, nonmetal, or metalloid. This article aims to help educators teach students about the classification of tungsten, a fascinating element with many applications in modern technology.

1. Understanding Tungsten

Tungsten, symbolized as ‘W’ and with atomic number 74, is a dense and hard but brittle element. It has the highest melting point of all metals, making it an essential component in various high-temperature applications. By understanding its properties, students will be able to determine its classification accurately.

2. Metals vs Nonmetals vs Metalloids

Before diving into tungsten’s classification, educators should first ensure that students have a clear understanding of the differences between metals, nonmetals, and metalloids:

– Metals: these elements typically possess high electrical conductivity and are generally malleable and ductile. They often exhibit lustrous appearances and react chemically with nonmetals.

– Nonmetals: these elements generally have low electrical conductivity and may appear dull or gaseous at room temperature. They do not possess metallic characteristics and usually gain electrons in chemical reactions.

– Metalloids: also known as ‘semi-metals,’ these elements exhibit properties of both metals and nonmetals. They can demonstrate variable electrical conductivity according to temperature changes.

3. Exploring Tungsten’s Properties

To determine if tungsten is a metal, nonmetal or metalloid, educators should guide students through an examination of its properties:

– Appearance: Tungsten has a shiny metallic gray appearance.

– Conductivity: It exhibits excellent electrical conductivity.

– Malleability: Though brittle in its pure form, tungsten becomes more malleable when combined with other elements.

– Chemical Reactions: Tungsten reacts with other nonmetals such as oxygen, sulfur, and carbon.

By comparing these properties with the characteristics of metals, nonmetals, and metalloids, students will be able to determine that tungsten possesses strong metallic traits.

4. Conclusion: Classifying Tungsten

Based on the analysis of its properties, it’s clear that tungsten is a metal. Educators should then reinforce this concept through practical examples and applications. By relating their newfound knowledge to real-world situations, students will grasp the significance of accurately classifying elements and be better equipped to apply this skill to other elements in the periodic table.

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