Samarium - Element Project

I am in 10th grade, and my Chemistry I Honors class is doing "element mystery"
projects. By a random selection, I am conducting an experiment on Samarium. I
know very little about the element, except that it is not really possible to obtain
the substance and bring it in to class and conduct an experiment. I was told by
my teacher that because this element is not easy to get, I will have to come up
with an experiment that will demonstrate how Samarium would, but using another substance
for the experiment. Because of lack of time and resources, I would appreciate any
help that you have to offer. I would greatly appreciate your ideas of experiments
that I may be able to perform. I have found from a number of sources that Samarium
is magnetic, and that when they repel against themselves the magnets can "fly"
and even injure someone, but it still leaves me at a loss as to what experiment
I may perform. Thank you for your time and information.
Erin

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Samarium is VERY easy to get. Just take a look around E-Bay. Or, click on this link:

[url=http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=413&item=3285354077&rd=1]Samarium For Sale.[/url]

I've got quite a bit of it on my own as it's a part of my element collection. As for it's properties and whatnot, just take a look around here on webelements. :D

im in 10th grade chem too!!!

Sm Uses

I really despise these unimaginative "projects" that put kids on the spot, involve no instruction from "teachers," and don't advance the cause of learning one bit.

As one correspondent noted, samarium is commercially available; usually the small chips sell for around $25.00 on ebay; however, even if time and money are not in limited supply, the CRC Handbook for Chemistry and Physics notes that little is really known about the toxicity of Sm and it should be handled with care.

Here are some safe and imaginative things to do with samarium that people with degrees in education would never come up with. Sm forms 1% of the alloy called mischmetal; this Fe-Ce-Sm (and a lot of other things) mixture has the strange property that when scraped, it produces hot sparks, so it's the metal used in cigarette and barbeque lighters. You can get a BIC and flick at your teacher!

Samarium is used to dope fluoride crystals for lasers; get a laser pointer and flash it around the room; if your lucky an accidental flash could blind your teacher and the substitute may know about the art of teaching, a replacement which will improve your education immensely.

Samarium (and all the other lanthanides) is used in making pastel glazes for ceramics; find a pale pink or light yellow china teacup and sip some tea.

Yes, samarium is used in rare magnets that are incredibly resistant to demagnetization. Get a steel sabre, suspend it by an electromagnet above your tescher's head and then turn the electricity off and watch it fall down; you can wisely observe that if samarium had been used in the magnet the sabre would have stayed put avoiding fatal consequences.

Seriously, in the interests of time and money, buy the cheap lighter and declare that without 1% samarium in the alloy that the file-wheel grates, the gas wouldn't light. It's cheap, easy to do and you will have put in about as much effort on this project as your teacher did.

An example of a bad chemical educator. :)

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