Social Distance Learning: Clean Your Pennies

Project: Clean Your Pennies!
Video Tutorial: clean your pennies
Have you ever noticed coins can get pretty dirty, especially pennies?  Well here’s a quick science activity that “mixes” oohs and ahhs with a little chemical reaction fun!
  1. Pour ½ a cup of white vinegar into a bowl.
  2. Add a teaspoon of salt to the vinegar and mix until it’s dissolved.
  3. Dip a dirty penny ½ way into the mixture and hold it there for ten seconds.
  4. Lift up your penny for a clean surprise!
Science Behind the Experiment:
When you put a dirty penny into vinegar and salt, the copper oxide and some of the copper dissolve in the water, leaving some of their electrons behind. This means some copper atoms leave the penny and start floating around in the mixture.
Did you know that the date of your penny affects your results?
It could and here’s why:
If your Lincoln Memorial penny has a date before 1982, it is made of 95% copper. If it is dated 1983 or after, it is made of 97.5% zinc and plated with a thin copper coating. 1983 pennies can be tricky to determine because both copper and zinc center were made during that year. Using this information, test and compare the results of different pennies.
Sponsored by National Grid.

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