Human beings have used metals extensively from a very long time, and in fact historical ages have been named after them – i.e., the Bronze Age or the Iron Age. The chronology of these Ages shows the ease of extraction and usefulness of the metals in a very nice way. Gold ornaments have been found dating from over 3000 years ago, still looking as good as new. In India, the coming of the Aryans brought in the Iron Age- they were able to settle in the Gangetic Plain since their iron axes could cut down trees more easily and convert forests to fields. We are still in the Iron Age – 90% of the metal we use is iron.
The extraction and use of the metals closely follow their reactivity, i.e., how easily they form compounds. The experimental determination of the activity series will help both to understand the uses of the metals and the nature of their reactions. The determination of the activity series can be set up as Metal vs. Metal – which metal will displace another and as Metal vs. Hydrogen – which metal will displace Hydrogen from water and from acids.
The author works with Centre for Learning, Bangalore. She can be reached at [email protected].