A Very important Metal – Iron

steel bars

Image Credit Flickr User KC Toh, via CC

“What is the most important metal for human kind?” Teacher asked the class.

A few hands were raised.

“Gold”, Jenna answered.

“Silver”, Patrick tried.

Teacher shook her head and said, ” People don’t realize a lot of times that gold and silver might be very expensive and sought after metals, but they are not the most important. Look around and try to write a list of all the things that are made of metal on the board.”

Soon the scribbling on the board expanded. When they were done the teacher looked at the board and read aloud, ” Sharpener, paper clips, nails, window grill, fan, lockers … Now, who can tell me which metal has made up these things?”

Everybody said together, “Steel”.”

“Very good! Can someone now tell me what makes up steel?” She asked.

“I think it is made up of iron.” Nina answered.

Teacher smiled and said, “That is correct. Iron or steel has been the biggest discovery for human kind, and there has been constant development ever since.  Bridges, automobiles, buildings, railroad, knives, nails, forks, cans and paper clips. The list is endless. Does anybody know how iron or steel is made?”

“I am not sure, but I think we dig out rocks of iron from the ground, melt them and make iron bars or something”, Tommy answered a bit hesitantly.

“That is a great answer Tommy, the rocks are called iron ore, and they are found in abundance on Earth. When you melt these the other things in the rock melt away, and only iron remains. The process of digging out the iron ore is called mining.

Kids nodded. “What is steel then?” Someone asked.

Steel spilling out of furnace

Image Credit Flickr User DH Wright, via CC

“When you heat iron in fire for a long time it becomes harder and stronger, it is then called steel. These days steel is made by putting iron ore and coal and limestone in a blast furnace. The  molten iron poured into molds is left to harden into steel bars. Do you know what these bars are called”. Teacher asked.

No one knew.

“Pigs”, she replied smilingly.

The whole class giggled.

The teacher concluded the class by saying that next trip would be to an iron mine and a steel mill.

Did you know how Earth has so much of the iron?
Scientists believe that meteorites built of solid iron have fallen on to the Earth depositing so much iron on Earth. It is also true for other metals. So if we run out of these metals we can go for space mining 😉


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