Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Preschool Science: Cleaning Pennies

When I talked about science with my preschooler last week, I mentioned how we've been doing some simple experiments with the help of this kit.  One of the activities involved cleaning pennies.  We took two pennies of equal dinginess, and we soaked one in lemon juice and one in water.  After an hour or two, we examined them for changes.


The penny soaked in lemon juice was clearly shinier than the one soaked in water.  We talked briefly about how lemon juice is acidic.  Then we fired off more questions.

What would happen if we left the penny in lemon juice overnight?
Mommy has heard that you can clean a toilet with Coke, do you think that might clean our pennies?

We kept our control (water) and lemon juice pennies from the first experiment, and we found two more pennies that looked similar to our control coin.


We put more lemon juice in a test tube, and I hunted for some Coke.  All I found in the house was some Diet Coke someone had left behind that weekend.  Hmm . . . I wonder if it would make a difference.


Then, we waited.  That was the hardest part.  Waiting until the next day . . .


These were our results:


Bottom left:  control, water for one hour
Top left:  lemon juice for one hour
Top right:  Diet Coke overnight
Bottom right:  lemon juice overnight

She could see that the overnight lemon penny was even shinier than the one hour lemon penny.  It looked brand new, in fact.  The Diet Coke penny was a bit of a surprise.  We thought the acidity would clean it like the rumor about cleaning toilets, but it made it even darker.  Whatever is in that stuff stained the penny instead of cleaning it!  We had a brief discussion about what that stuff might do to our insides if it could do that to a penny.  Ew.  Then we wondered if it made a difference that I used Diet Coke instead of regular Coke.  

Can we test that another day, Mommy?
Absolutely.

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