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A-level Chemistry

periodic table

(The rare earth elements are sometimes also referred to as the lanthanides—referring specifically to the series of 15 elements running from lanthanum (La) to lutetium (Lu). [1]Link opens in a new window)

The rare earth elements took on a new scientific and then geopolitical importance with advances in atomic physics during the 20th century. The challenge of separating the rare earth elements from ore and from one another made it unclear just how many rare earth elements there might be. In 1913, the British physicist Henry Moseley determined there were 15 elements in the lanthanide series (atomic numbers 57 through 71) using X-ray spectroscopy [1]Link opens in a new window.

Rare earths acquired a new status in 1939, after Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner, and Fritz Strassmann discovered nuclear fission of uranium—an insight leading to the atomic bomb—and identified rare earth elements in fission products. In the United States the plan to build an atomic bomb, code-named the Manhattan Project, drew on the expertise of the leading American rare earth chemist, Frank Spedding, to solve a key problem. The rare earth elements were impurities that prevented a nuclear chain reaction by absorbing neutrons. The rare earths needed to be separated and removed in the process of purifying uranium. Out of Spedding’s wartime work was born the Ames Laboratory at Iowa State University, now the U.S. government’s premier rare earth elements research facility [1]Link opens in a new window.




Rare Earth Elements Education Resources for Chemistry


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Here, we summuarized education resources for teaching Rare Earth Elements in the Chemistry course in the following examboards:

Assessment and Qualifcations Alliance (AQA)

Chemistry (7404, 7405)

Topic 3.1 Physical Chemistry

Topic 3.2 Inorganic Chemistry



Chemistry (2015) 

Topic 1 Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table 


Topic 4 Inorganic Chemistry and the Periodic Table



Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR)

Chemistry A (H302, H432)

Chemistry B (H033, H433)

Module 2: Foundations in Chemistry 

Module 3: Periodic Table and Energy 


International Baccalaureate (IB)


Topic 2 Atomic Theory

Topic 3: Periodicity 

Topic 4: Chemical bonding and structure 


For Further Curriculum information, please visit the following examboard website.

Assessment and Qualifcations Alliance (AQA)




Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR)


International Baccalaureate (IB)