Extraction of metals teaching resources

Worksheets and lesson ideas to challenge students aged 11 to 16 to think hard about the extraction of metals (GCSE and Key Stage 3)

During the extraction of aluminium the dust from the bauxite mines causes breathing difficulties but the mines bring employment. We can enjoy smartly wrapped chocolate eggs but will need to destroy areas of natural beauty with hydroelectric dams to power the electrolysis; for every gain there is a cost.  When we teach students about the extraction of aluminium we must think about this ‘big picture’ and help students consider the impact of science to people and the environment; time to get curious. 

Extraction of aluminium from bauxite

GCSE worksheet on the extraction of aluminium. Students consider how the process of aluminium extraction impacts the environment and people. This is a great opportunity to help students see how chemistry can impact far more than just a reaction. This resource was inspired by Ralph Levinson’s article listed below and a training session he ran. (PDF)

Click to see an excellent summary of how aluminium is extracted from the bauxite ore.

Extraction of iron in the blast furnace

This excellent animation shows the working of a blast furnace from the 1700s. The use of a historical furnace allows students to better understand the workings of the blast furnace – the simple structure allows parts to be more easily identified than when looking at modern day furnaces. The extraction of iron from iron ore was a major technological achievement that allowed the expansion of the iron trade and ultimately helped lead to the Industrial Revolution.

Further reading

Levinson, R. (2009) The manufacture of aluminium and the rubbish-pickers of Rio: building interlocking narratives, School Science Review 90(333) pp 119- 124