Reaching Melting Point
All that glistens: unlocking the Age of Metal with a smelting experience.
As Year 3's Stone Age topic reached the point where the Beaker people brought metalworking skills to these shores, we took our inspiration from an episode of CountryFile where a class tried smelting. This was something we needed to discover for ourselves.
Compared with our campfire-driven water-related changes of state activities, smelting carries more risks: lead-free pewter melts at 245 degrees Celsius, so we decided to keep the actual pouring of molten metal in the hands of the adults this time, but the children created their own moulds from clay and sand. Clay moulds proved difficult to get the pewter to flow round, with sand casting working more reliably.
As well as taking their own pewter creations home, some spare pieces were placed inside burial chambers by later groups as grave goods.