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Chemical Magic Unit Share
Mystery 2 of 5
Could you transform something worthless into gold?
Mystery 2 image
Could you transform something worthless into gold?
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DISCUSS (1 of 3): Can you think of any tests you could do, that would help you figure out which idea is true?

2 possibilities

Here’s an idea we had...

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DISCUSS (2 of 3):

Suppose we give you a scale, a tool that measures weight. Using a scale, is there a test you could do to figure out which idea is true?

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DISCUSS (3 of 3):

If the vinegar and salt REMOVED the dull copper, then what should we find out when we weigh the penny before and after?

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DISCUSS:

Why do you think the alchemist left, never to be heard from again? Was there something he didn’t want the king to figure out?

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DISCUSS (1 of 2):

Why do you think we couldn’t see little bits of copper in the liquid?

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Beginning Complete!

You've completed the Exploration & Activity!

If you have more time, view the assessment, reading, and extension activity in the extensions.

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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

These readings are free with registration on ReadWorks, a nonprofit committed to providing teachers with research-proven, Common-Core-aligned readings. All readings include comprehension questions.

The Penny Experiment tells the story of a girl who experiments with pennies and vinegar and learns about why copper changes color. (Grade 6)

The Allure of Gold discusses why people have always valued gold. (Grade 6)

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Activity: Blue-Green Pennies

Vinegar and salt can make a penny bright and shiny. Can it change the copper of a penny in other ways?

If you read “The Penny Experiment” in our list of readings, you know the answer.

To try the experiment described in the story, follow these instructions from Buggy and Buddy to find out.

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Video: Penny in Nitric Acid

You’ve watched what happens to a penny in vinegar, a weak acid. What happens if you put a penny in nitric acid, a strong acid?

This experiment is too dangerous to try in your classroom, but it’s interesting to watch. In this video, scientist Wayne Breslyn demonstrates how to do the experiment safely.

The reaction creates a brown gas called nitrogen dioxide, which is dangerous to breathe. The humming you hear in the video is the fan of a fume hood. The fume hood removes the nitrogen dioxide so no one will breathe it.

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Overview
Grade 5th
Topic Chemical Reactions & Properties Of Matter
Focus Dissolving & Particulate Nature of Matter
Print Prep
Activity Prep

THIS LESSON WAS REVISED ON JANUARY 11, 2018. If you've prepped prior to that date, we suggest using the previous version.
In this Mystery, students investigate the alchemists’ claim of transforming ordinary metals into gold. In the activity, The King's Sword, students use the vinegar, salt, and penny solution that they created in Mystery 1 to copper plate a steel nail. Students then create a conceptual model of how particles from the pennies are the same ones that eventually coat the nail in copper.

Preview activity

Number of students:
Alchemist's Potion printouts from Chemical Magic Mystery 1
Completed in the previous lesson.
Details
30 printouts
Clean-up Supplies (Eg. Paper Towels)
In case of spills.
Details
1 roll
Vinegar & Salt Solution from Chemical Magic Mystery 1
Filled with pennies and a steel nail.
Details
1 container
Dixie Cups (3 oz)
8 cups
Medium Binder Clips (1 1/4")
Used to clip Ziploc bags to the plastic bin. Clothespins or masking tape can also work.
Details
8 clips
Paper Plates
Plastic plates will also work.
Details
8 plates
Plastic Bin
Used to store Ziploc bags for students. Bin must be large enough so that all groups of students can clip their bag to the sides of the bin (8 Ziploc bags for a class of 32).
Details
1 bin
Plastic Spoons
4 spoons
Sticker Labels (1" x 3")
Masking tape will also work.
Details
16 labels
Ziploc Bags (Sandwich Size)
Ziploc snack size bags also work.
Details
8 bags
Steel Nails
It’s important that you get steel nails (or steel washers)—NOT stainless-steel and NOT galvanized steel. Jumbo paper clips will also work, but the results are harder to see.
Details
8 nails
Alchemist’s Potion, Part 2 printout Print 30 copies
Prep Instructions

To do this activity, you must have completed the activity in Mystery 1.

We suggest students work in groups of four. Homeschool students can work on their own, but will need help with some steps.

Remove the Steel Nail from the Vinegar and Salt Solution

At the end of the last Mystery, you put all the pennies in the vinegar and salt solution, added a steel nail when students were gone, and then left the solution overnight. To prepare for this activity, check on that solution before class and look at the nail you put in. All or part of the nail should now be covered by a layer of copper.

Take the nail out of the solution, rinse it off, and set it aside to show your students during the last video. Save the penny-filled solution for students to use in this activity.

Prepare Materials for Classroom Distribution

Students will first need the following materials:

King

We then recommend you set up three stations around the classroom:

  • Potion Pro & Penny Pro Station: Pennies in the vinegar and salt solution along with the spoons for scooping up pennies and one Dixie cup for each group
  • Bag Boss Station: A Ziploc bag for each group
  • Steel Master Station: A steel nail for each group

King

Have a Plastic Bin Ready to Store Student Experiments

If conditions are just right, copper forms on the steel quickly. But in many cases, students may need to leave their experiments for a few hours or even overnight to see results.

To store students' experiments overnight, we suggest taping or clipping the Ziploc bags to the sides of a plastic bin, with the bags hanging over the inside of the bin. This ensures that the nail remains submerged in the liquid. In the unlikely event that the bags leak, the bin will catch the vinegar.

Overview
Grade 5th
Topic Chemical Reactions & Properties Of Matter
Focus Dissolving & Particulate Nature of Matter
Extensions