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The Chemical Earth

2  The Chemical Earth    Mount Newman iron ore mine.   The mineral extracted is mainly haematite - iron (III) oxide (Fe2O3).  The mineral is first separated from other useless materials (gangue) and then the iron must be separated from the oxygen to form metallic iron.


The Earth includes a clearly identifiable biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere. All of these are mixtures of thousands of substances and the use of this pool of resources requires the separation of useful substances. The processes of separation will be determined by the physical and chemical properties of the substances.

In order to use the Earth’s resources effectively and efficiently, it is necessary to understand the properties of the elements and compounds found in mixtures that make up earth materials. Applying appropriate models, theories and laws of chemistry to the range of earth materials allows a useful classification of the materials and a better understanding of the properties of substances.

This module increases students’ understanding of the nature, practice, applications and uses of chemistry.


The targeted outcomes for this unit are:

(Prescribed Focus Areas)

P2  A student applies the processes that are used to test and validate models, theories and laws of science with particular emphasis on first-hand investigations in chemistry

P4  A student describes applications of chemistry which affect society or the environment

(Domain: Knowledge and Understanding)

P6  A student explains trends and relationships between elements in terms of atomic structure and bonding

(Domain:  Skills)

P12  A student discusses the validity and reliability of data gathered from first-hand investigations and secondary sources


NOTE   This is only that part of the syllabus that specifies outcomes - there is much more to the syllabus.  This content statement is provided to you as a guide to what you should study in preparation for examinations.  It has been copied from the official document, but the numbering  system is my own.

The dot points in regular typeface are prefixed by “Students learn to -” and those in italics are prefixed by “Students -”.

1. The living and non-living components of the Earth contain mixtures.

1.1 Identify the difference between elements, compounds and mixtures in terms of the particle theory;

1.2 Identify data sources, plan, choose equipment and perform a first-hand investigation to separate components of a naturally occurring or appropriate mixture such as sand, salt and water;

1.3 Gather first-hand information by carrying out a gravimetric analysis of a mixture to estimate its percentage composition;

1.4 Identify data sources, gather, process and analyse information from secondary sources to identify the industrial separation processes used on  a  mixture obtained from the biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere or atmosphere and use the available evidence available evidence to:

   * identify the properties of the mixture used in its separation;

   * identify the products of separation and their uses;

   * discuss issues associated with wastes from the processes used.

1.5 Identify that the biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere contain examples of mixtures, elements and compounds;

1.6 Identify and describe procedures that can be used to separate naturally occurring mixtures of:

   * solids of different sizes;

   * solids and liquids;

   * solids dissolved in liquids;

   * liquids;

   * gases;

1.7 Assess separation techniques for their suitability in separating examples of earth materials, identifying the differences in properties which enable these separations;

1.8 Describe situations in which gravimetric analysis supplies useful data for chemists and other scientists;

1.9  Gather and present information from first-hand or secondary sources to write equations to represent all chemical reactions encountered in the preliminary course;

1.10 Apply systematic naming of inorganic compounds as they are introduced in the laboratory;

1.11 Identify the IUPAC names for carbon compounds as they are encountered.

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2.  Although most elements are found in combinations on Earth, some elements are found uncombined.

2.1 Explain the relationship between the reactivity of an element and the likelihood of its existing as an uncombined element;

2.2 Plan and perform an investigation to examine some physical properties, including malleability, hardness and electrical conductivity and some uses of a range of common elements to present information about the classification of elements as metals, non-metals or semi-metals;

2.3 Classify elements as metals, non-metals and semi-metals according to their physical properties;

2.4 Account for the uses of metals and non-metals in terms of their physical properties;

2.5  Analyse information from secondary sources to distinguish the physical properties of metals and non-metals;

2.6 Process information from secondary sources and use a Periodic Table to present information about the classification of elements as:

   * metals, non-metals and semi-metals;

   * solids, liquids and gases at 25 deg. C and normal atmospheric pressure;

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3.  Elements in Earth materials are present as compounds because of their interactions at the atomic level.

3.1 Identify that matter is made of particles that are continuously moving and interacting;

3.2 Describe atoms in terms of mass number and atomic number;

3.3 Describe qualitatively the energy levels of electrons in atoms;

3.4 Describe the formation of ions in terms of atoms gaining of losing electrons;

3.5 Apply the Periodic Table to predict the ions formed by atoms of metals and non-metals;

3.6 Apply Lewis electron dot structures to:

   * the formation of ions;

   * the electron sharing in some simple molecules;

3.7 Describe the formation of ionic compounds in terms of the attraction of ions;

3.8 Analyse information by constructing or using models showing the structure of metals, ionic compounds and covalent compounds;

3.9 Construct ionic equations showing metal and non-metal atoms forming ions;

3.10 Describe molecules as particles which can move independently of each other;

3.11 Distinguish between molecules containing one atom (the noble gases) and molecules with more than one atom;

3.12 Describe the formation of covalent molecules in terms of sharing of electrons;

3.13 Construct formulae for compounds formed from

   * ions;

   * atoms sharing electrons;

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4.  Energy is required to extract elements from their naturally occurring sources

4.1  Identify the differences between physical and chemical change in terms of the rearrangement of particles;

4.2  Plan and safely perform a first-hand investigation to show the decomposition of a carbonate by heat, using appropriate tests to identify carbon dioxide and the oxide as the products of the reaction;

4.3  Summarise the differences between boiling and the electrolysis of water as an example of the difference between physical and chemical change;

4.4  Gather information using first-hand or secondary sources to:

   *  observe the effect of light on silver salts and identify an application of the use of this reaction;

   *  observe the electrolysis of water, analyse the information provided as evidence that water is a compound and identify an application of the use of this reaction;

4.5  Identify light, heat and electricity as the common forms of energy that may be released or absorbed during the decomposition or synthesis of substances and identify examples of these changes occurring in everyday life;

4.6  Analyse and present information to model the boiling of water and the electrolysis of water tracing the movements of and changes in arrangement of molecules;

4.7  Explain that the amount of energy needed to separate atoms in a compound is an indication of the strength of the attraction, or bond, between them.

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  1. 5. The properties of  elements and compounds are determined by their bonding and structure

5.1 perform a first-hand investigation to compare the properties of some common elements in their elemental state with the properties of the compound(s) of these elements (eg magnesium and oxygen)

5.2 identify differences between physical and chemical properties of elements, compounds and mixtures

5.3 describe the physical properties used to classify compounds as ionic or covalent molecular or covalent network

5.4 distinguish between metallic, ionic and covalent bonds

5.5 describe metals as three-dimensional lattices of ions in a sea of electrons

5.6 describe ionic compounds in terms of repeating three-dimensional lattices of ions

5.7 choose resources and process information from secondary sources to construct and discuss the limitations of models of ionic lattices, covalent molecules and covalent and metallic lattices

5.8  perform an investigation to examine the physical properties of a range of common substances in order to classify them as metallic, ionic or covalent molecular or covalent network substances and relate their characteristics to their uses

Notes on 2.52.5__.html

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