Rusty Penny

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In this easy chemistry activity, learners submerge pennies in different liquids (water, lemon juice, vinegar, liquid hand soap, salt water, and baking soda mixed with water) to observe which best cleans oxidation (rust) off the copper. This activity can be used with lessons on acids and bases, metals, and chemical reactions.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 7 days

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Water
  • Lemon juice
  • Vinegar
  • Liquid hand soap
  • Salt water
  • Baking soda
  • 2-6 small cups
  • 2-6 old pennies
  • Printout of activity
  • Pen or pencil


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Rocks and Minerals
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Representation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Acids and Bases
      • Oxidation-Reduction Reactions
      • Solutions
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, The Regents of the University of California, 2007