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Elements for Kids

Scandium

The element scandium

  • Symbol: Sc
  • Atomic Number: 21
  • Atomic Weight: 44.9559
  • Classification: Transition metal or rare earth metal
  • Phase at Room Temperature: Solid
  • Density: 2.985 grams per cm cubed
  • Melting Point: 1541°C, 2806°F
  • Boiling Point: 2836°C, 5136°F
  • Discovered by: Lars Frederik Nilson in 1879


Scandium is the first element in the third column of the periodic table. It is classified as a transition metal or rare earth metal. Scandium atoms have 21 electrons and 21 protons with 2 valence electrons in the outmost shell.

Characteristics and Properties

Under standard conditions scandium is a silvery-white metal. It is fairly soft and is nearly as light as aluminum. When scandium is first exposed to the air it will tarnish to a slightly pink or yellow color.

In its pure form, scandium will react with acids. However, it won't react with oxygen and is very resistant to corrosion. It has a very high melting point, which makes it a good substitute for aluminum in high temperature applications.

Where is scandium found on Earth?

Scandium is a fairly rare element on earth being around the 50th most common element. It is generally only found in small amounts in minerals. There are only a few minerals that have a reasonable concentration of scandium including gadolinite, thortveitite, and euxenite.

Scandium is generally a byproduct of mining minerals for other elements such as fluorine and tantalum. Some scandium is also produced as a byproduct of refining uranium.

How is scandium used today?

Scandium is quite useful as a part of metal alloys. However, the cost of scandium has prevented it from becoming used in mainstream applications. Aluminum or titanium are often used instead because they are much less expensive.

Scandium is used together with aluminum to make strong durable alloys that are used in aircraft components, golf clubs, firearms, and even high end baseball bats.

Scandium is also used to make bright lights that come close to replicating sunlight. These lights are used for sporting events and movie production.

How was it discovered?

Swedish chemist Lars F. Nilson first discovered scandium when running experiments with the minerals gadolinite and euxenite in 1879. It wasn't until 1937 that the first metallic scandium was produced.

Where did scandium get its name?

Lars F. Nilson named scandium after his homeland using the Latin word "Scandia" which stood for "Scandinavia". Sweden is part of Scandinavia.

Isotopes

Scandium has a number of isotopes, but the only one that is found naturally is scandium-45.

Interesting Facts about Scandium


More on the Elements and the Periodic Table

Elements
Periodic Table

Alkali Metals
Lithium
Sodium
Potassium

Alkaline Earth Metals
Beryllium
Magnesium
Calcium
Radium

Transition Metals
Scandium
Titanium
Vanadium
Chromium
Manganese
Iron
Cobalt
Nickel
Copper
Zinc
Silver
Platinum
Gold
Mercury
Post-transition Metals
Aluminum
Gallium
Tin
Lead

Metalloids
Boron
Silicon
Germanium
Arsenic

Nonmetals
Hydrogen
Carbon
Nitrogen
Oxygen
Phosphorus
Sulfur
Halogens
Fluorine
Chlorine
Iodine

Noble Gases
Helium
Neon
Argon

Lanthanides and Actinides
Uranium
Plutonium

More Chemistry Subjects

Matter
Atom
Molecules
Isotopes
Solids, Liquids, Gases
Melting and Boiling
Chemical Bonding
Chemical Reactions
Radioactivity and Radiation
Mixtures and Compounds
Naming Compounds
Mixtures
Separating Mixtures
Solutions
Acids and Bases
Crystals
Metals
Salts and Soaps
Water
Other
Glossary and Terms
Chemistry Lab Equipment
Organic Chemistry
Famous Chemists


Science >> Chemistry for Kids >> Periodic Table





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