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Shiny Penny Experiment

Indoor Free
Chemistry, Science Fair

Activity Overview

Have fun restoring old pennies into newer looking ones with the Shiny Penny Experiment. This experiment is great for all ages as they explore the science of chemical reactions with very quick an gratifying results.

A brand new penny is coated in shiny copper and over time it loses its luster and copper color. This happens because the copper mixes with the oxygen in the air and makes a coating called an oxide. When you put the penny in lemon juice or ketchup, the acid within each of them chemically removes the oxide, and you're left with a bright copper penny. The water, however does not have much of an effect because it does not have as much acidity as the others.

Materials Needed

  • Old Pennies
  • Lemon Juice
  • Water
  • Ketchup
  • Paper Towels

How to Do It

  1. Put a penny in a paper cup.
  2. Pour some lemon juice into the cup. Make sure the penny is completely covered.
  3. After about 5 minutes, take the penny out of the lemon juice, rub it off with a paper towel. Observe any changes in the penny.
  4. Now try steps 1-3 replacing the lemon juice with water and again replacing with ketchup. Observe the changes that take place.

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