Elements for Kids
Alkaline Earth Metals
The alkaline earth metals are a group of elements in the periodic table. They are all in the second column of the periodic table. They are sometimes referred to as the group 2 elements.
What elements are alkaline earth metals?
The elements of the alkaline earth metals include beryllium, magnesium, calcium, strontium, barium, and radium. Click the links or see below for more details on each.
What are the similar properties of alkaline earth metals?
Alkaline earth metals share many similar properties including:
- They are silvery, shiny, and relatively soft metals.
- They are fairly reactive under standard conditions.
- They have two outer valence electrons which they readily lose.
- They all occur in nature, but are only found in compounds and minerals, not in their elemental forms.
- They react with halogens to form compounds called halides.
- All of them except beryllium react strongly with water.
- They tend to form ionic bonds, except for beryllium which forms covalent bonds.
The most abundant of the alkaline earth metals on Earth is calcium which is the fifth most abundant element in the Earth's crust. Here is the list in order:
- They burn with various colored flames as follows: beryllium (white), magnesium (bright white), calcium (red), strontium (crimson), barium (green), and radium (red).
- The name "alkaline earths" comes from an old name for the oxides of the elements. They are called alkaline because they form solutions with a pH greater than 7, making them bases or "alkaline."
- Radium is formed from the decay of uranium. It is very radioactive and is dangerous to handle.
- Calcium and magnesium are important for animal and plant life. Calcium plays an important role in helping us to build strong bones and magnesium is used to help regulate the body's temperature.
- English chemist Sir Humphry Davy was the first to isolate many of the alkaline earth metals including calcium, strontium, magnesium, and barium.
- Radium was discovered by scientists Marie and Pierre Curie.
- Radium, barium, and strontium have few industrial applications, while magnesium and calcium have many uses in manufacturing and industry.
More on the Elements and the Periodic Table
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