Secondary 1 Topic

Exploring the diversity of matter – Hardness of the material

This science revision note aims to help your child understand what physical properties are.

 

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Learning outcomes:

  • Understand what physical properties are.

Here’s the list of the materials by its hardness:

Comparing the hardness of materials.

A material can cut or scratch a material that is less hard than itself but not a material that is harder.

  • Diamond is one of the hardest naturally occurring materials.

 

Question

The figure below shows the Moh’s scale of hardness which is used to compare the hardness of minerals from talc to diamond. The higher the Moh’s hardness scale, the harder its material.

(a) The fingernail can easily scratch some of these minerals. State these minerals. [1]

(b) A mineral will scratch a copper coin but will not scratch an iron nail. State the mineral. [1]

(c) An unknown mineral can scratch all the common objects listed in the chart. This mineral has a hardness of at least _____________ on the scale. [1]

(d) State one use of this mineral. [1]

 

STEP 1: Recall

What physical property is this question looking for?

– The physical property this question is testing for is hardness.

 

STEP 2: Correctly interpret the given chart of Moh’s hardness scale

– The higher the object on Moh’s hardness scale, the harder the object.

– The harder object will be able to scratch a less hard object. E.g. Fingernail can scratch Tale and Gypsum which is lower on the hardness scale.

 

STEP 3: Piecing your answer together.

Answers

(a) Tale and Gypsum.

(b) Flourite.

(c) 8.

(d) Use of topaz: Topaz is a popular gemstone used in jewellery, particularly in rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.

Use of corundum: It is the mineral that produces both rubies and sapphires commonly used in jewellery.

Use of diamond: Besides jewellery, it has industrial applications and is used in cutting, grinding, and drilling tools for hard materials like metals, glass, and other gemstones.

 

 

Common mistakes

 

Wrong answers: Fingernail can scratch calcite.

 

Teachers’ comments: Take note that Moh’s scale of hardness is not learnt at the Sec 1 level, but this question tests your ability to read and interpret the data given. Fingernail cannot scratch calcite as calcite is harder than fingernail. It can only scratch objects lower on the scale of hardness.

Different materials can have a wide range of hardness values. For instance, diamond is one of the hardest known natural materials, while materials like rubber are very soft. Understanding the full spectrum of hardness values is important in materials science and engineering.

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