What is a metal?
What is a metal?

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

What is a metal?

What is a metal?


You will have little hesitation in distinguishing the metal blade of a kitchen knife from the handle which is probably made of plastic or wood. But what really distinguishes a metal from a non-metal? Metals are used in many different ways, such as in jewellery, pots and pans and in wires for conducting electricity and you can probably think of many other examples of metal use. Each metal has its own personal signature and metals can be identified experimentally by being burnt in a naked flame. In this course you will start exploring some of the characteristic properties of metals that allow their varied uses in our everyday lives. You will also undertake an online experiment to identify metals using a ‘flame test’.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course S111 Questions in science [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .


Take your learning further371

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses372.

If you are new to university level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. Find out Where to take your learning next?373 You could either choose to start with an Access courses374or an open box module, which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification.

Not ready for University study then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn375 and sign up to our newsletter376 to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371