Are magic potions real?

Are magic potions real?

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DISCUSS (1 of 2):

Do you think there could really be a potion that does something amazing or valuable? (Do you think there are really liquids or mixtures that can transform things?) Why or why not?

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DISCUSS (2 of 2):

If you could make a potion, what would you want it to do?

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GET A SUPPLY:

Everyone get 1 dull, brown penny. Then:

DISCUSS:

Suppose you wanted to make this dull, brown penny bright and shiny. Can you think of any liquids in your house that might do that?

Why do you think those liquids might work?

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DISCUSS:

Do you think oxygen turns the penny dark brown all the way through, or just on the surface? How could you figure it out?

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DISCUSS:

How could you figure out which of these three ideas is true? Wind Map

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Extensions

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the activity & exploration which you just completed.
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Readings

Learn more about the alchemists and how their work laid the foundation for the science of chemistry with these readings:

  • “Can You Turn Iron into Gold?” from Wonderopolis, a website dedicated to curiosity and imagination, created by the National Center for Families Learning.

  • From Alchemy to Chemistry from Newsela, a free service for teachers. (Reading includes comprehension questions and can be adjusted for reading level.)

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Activity: Disappearing Penny

Try this Disappearing Penny experiment with a US penny made after 1982. These coins have a center made of zinc, a silvery metal that reacts with vinegar and salt.

Print out the instructions here.

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Video: Rusty Steel in Vinegar

Watch this time-lapse video, then discuss:

  • What do you think happened to the rust that was on the steel?
  • Do you have any ideas about why putting oil on the steel might keep it from rusting again?

To find out more about what happens to rust and tarnish in vinegar, watch the next Mystery, "Could you transform something worthless into gold?"

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Lesson narration:

Activity Prep

Print Prep

LESSON REVISED 1/11/18. If you prepped before then, use the previous version.
In this lesson, students meet the alchemists, a historic group that used “potions” to try to transform materials. In the activity, Test Like An Alchemist, students test liquids to see which ones will clean the tarnish off a penny. Then, when one penny changes from dark and dirty to bright and shiny, they’ll have a chance to think about where the tarnish went.

Preview activity
COVID-19 Adaptations
Digital worksheets available
Teacher demo recommended

Students at home
Set up the four testing liquids and demonstrate the activity over video conference. Students need the Alchemist’s Potion, Part 1 worksheet (printed or digital) to record their observations.
Students at school
Set up the four testing liquids and demonstrate the activity for students to observe. Students need the Alchemist’s Potion, Part 1 worksheet to record their observations.

Exploration

15 mins

Wrap-Up

15 mins

Extend this lesson

Download this Lesson to your device so you can play it offline: