Sally Fitzgibbons Foundation

Beginning the Academic Essay

The identities of the unknown powders are Calcium Chloride, Sodium Chloride, and Strontium Chloride for unknown elements B, C, and D, respectively. Unknown B had a flame color and emission of light colors similar to that of Calcium Chloride. Unknown C had a flame color and emission of light colors similar to that of Sodium Chloride. Unknown D had a flame color and emission of light colors similar to that of Strontium Chloride. This was figured out by conducting experiments with the known elements. After finding the data on these known elements, data on the unknown elements were gathered and compared to the data of the known elements. Based off of the data for the unknown elements and the known elements, the identities of the unknown elements were narrowed down to the best option based off of the flame color and the emission of light colors. Unknown B was narrowed down to be Calcium Chloride because both tests resulted in a dark orange flame color and the exact same emission of light colors from the spectroscope. Similar to Unknown B, Unknown C also had the exact same emission of light colors to that of Sodium Chloride, both of which had light pink as their flame color. However, in the case for Unknown D, the flame color and the emission of light colors were slightly different compared to its counterpart. Unknown D was observed to have a red flame while its complement, Strontium Chloride, had a dark orange flame. Furthermore, Unknown D was observed to have 4 unique emission colors while Strontium Chloride was observed to have only 3. This evidence can be used to conclude that the Unknown elements may be the known elements listed. This is not just any coincidence where two flame tests yield similar to exact results. Since the data was for an unknown element and a known element were similar, an elaborate concept may be the “coincidence” for the results of the investigation. This such concept is electron configuration where the distribution of electrons of an atom or molecule is unique to each and every element. When an electron is hit by a photon of light, it absorbs the quanta of energy the photon was carrying and moves to a higher energy state. But if the speed of the electron is now greater, it’s wavelength must also have changed, so it can no long stay in the original orbital where the original wavelength was perfect for that orbital-shape. So the electron moves to a different, higher orbital where once again, its own wavelength is in phase with itself. Electrons therefore have to jump around within the atom as they either gain or lose energy. Similarly, when a Sodium Chloride atom is heated, the electrons in the atom tend to get “excited” since they are absorbing the photons of light energy. However, the excited electron does not stay in the excited state forever and eventually falls back to the ground state. When the electron falls from the excited state, it loses energy in the form of light. The color of the light emitted is dependent upon the energies of the photons emitted, which are in turn determined by the energies required to move electrons from one orbital to another. Depending on the element you put in the flame, various different energies of photons (colors) will appear due to the configuration of the electrons. Those colors are as unique to each element as fingerprints are to people.

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