Penny for Your Thoughts

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
In this activity, learners will explore how metals react with each other. They will see these metals change before their eyes as they coat a paperclip with the copper taken from a penny. Learners can extend their learning using one of the Extensions provided: learners can change the reactants to see if there are any observable changes in products; they may also wish to design their own reactions with the hopes of coating metal objects of their own. Part of the 21-activity guide published by OMSI, No Hassle Messy Science with a Wow. All activities in this guide use household materials and all lesson plans include preparation directions, demonstrations, procedure sheets, cross-curricular connections, and scientific explanation of content. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Activity write-up only, images are unavailable.]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per student)

  • * One small jar with lid
  • * Vinegar
  • * One tablespoon of salt
  • * 15 Pennies (or other copper items, e.g. copper wire)
  • * A steel paper clip (or other small iron-containing object, e.g. nail)


  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Oxidation-Reduction Reactions


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, 2007