Treasures in the Rough

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

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In this archaeology activity, learners make observations and conduct an experiment to demonstrate the effect saltwater has on artifacts. Use this activity to introduce learners to the process of corrosion. This activity is featured on pp.61-63 (part of a lesson that begins on p.55) of the "Treasures of the Earth: Discover Clues to the Past" unit of study for grades 3-5 and 6-8. Note: adult supervision recommended.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 7 days

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

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


Materials List (per group of students)

  • shallow pans of water
  • pennies
  • sponges
  • small pieces of paper
  • Artifact History handout (page 74)
  • measuring tools (rulers, tape measures, etc.)
  • pencils
  • paper towels
  • jars
  • pipe cleaners
  • string
  • boiling water
  • borax
  • measuring cups and tablespoons
  • goggles
  • gloves


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
    • Earth's History
      • Archeology
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
    • Measurement
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Oxidation-Reduction Reactions
      • Solutions
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
    • Science as a Career


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, 2011

Funding Sources:

  • AAA Insurance
  • Indianapolis Honda Dealers
  • Key Bank
  • National Geographic