We jumped into practical chemistry today with this experiment from Wholly Irresponsible Experiments.
To be honest, for all my recent intention to become more hands-on with science, I had planned to ease gently back in after our week away skiing, by watching Chemistry, A Volatile History. I hadn’t counted on C (8) and J (6) being so inspired by what they saw that they wanted to leap straight into being chemists themselves! (There’s nothing like a break to recharge the homeschool enthusiasm!)
As soon as the end credits on the documentary began to roll, J jumped off the sofa and headed towards the bathroom, blithely announcing he was “off to make some potions”. Remembering that a similar impromptu potion-making session had got through the large part of a £35 tube of my Laura Mercier foundation, I quickly grabbed Wholly Irresponsible Experiments and began setting up this easy and fun experiment.
What You Need
- 12 dull copper coins
- 150 ml (2/3 cup) vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- Small bowl (we used a ramekin)
- Iron nail (ungalvanised) or 2
- Kitchen paper
What You Do
- Pour the vinegar into a small bowl.
- Stir in the salt.
- Put the copper coins into the bowl so that they are completely submerged.
- After 5 minutes use a spoon to remove the coins
- Put the nail into the bowl. Notice little bubbles begin to form on it.
- After 30 minutes use a spoon to remove the nail
The nail comes out copper coloured! If you have a second nail you can compare the two.
The Scientific Explanation
Copper from the coins goes into the salt and vinegar solution and attaches to the nail, producing a copper-plated nail. For more on the science see this site.
Verdict on the Experiment
A resounding success. Fast, easy and very cool!