Fun Copper Science Experiment For Kids

Copper Experiment: What Will They Learn?

Copper Science Experiment

In this fun science experiment, you can teach your children about the process of oxidisation using some simple items that you are likely to have in the home. They will learn by observing and noting the changes in the copper coins experiencing first-hand the colour changes. Engaging with play is one of the most powerful forms of learning methods for a child.

This science experiment will teach children what happens to copper coins when they go through the process of oxidisation, creating a green patina on the surface, and they will also learn about reversing this process and stripping to copper oxide off of the coins. They will see the difference in the coppers appearance as a result of the interaction with the chemicals.

Copper Science Experiment:

What you will need

A few copper coins (Coins pre 1992 are the best to use as they have a 97% copper composition- post 1992 they have a 6% copper composition)

Copper Coins

Some white vinegar

A teaspoon of salt

A glass dish or bowl (not metal)

Some kitchen roll paper towel

Copper Experiment No 1

  • Pour some vinegar and teaspoon of salt into a small glass dish or bowl
  • Stir the mixture to dissolve the salt
  • Carefully place half a coin into the dissolved liquid and hold for around 30 seconds.
  • Observe the effects of the half-placed coin in the liquid- what happened to it? How does it look?
  • Add all the coins to the liquid and leave for ? minutes
  • Rinse the cleaned coins under running water, rinse thoroughly and leave to dry.

What has happened to the dull coins? Have they changed colour? How do they look now? How would you describe their colour? 

What has happened?

Coins that are a dull brown colour have gone through a process named oxidisation, and have a layer of copper oxide that sits on the coin. This happens when copper reacts with oxygen and moisture within the air. It is a slow process that happens over years.

By placing the coins in a solution of salt and vinegar this solution reacts with the copper oxide and removes it from the surface of the coin once again leaving it shiny and back to its original colour of an orangey red.

Copper Experiment No 2

  • Pour some vinegar and teaspoon of salt into a small glass lidded container
  • Place some kitchen paper towel in the bottom of the container
  • Place some coins in the container with the liquid solution
  • Place the lid on the container to stop the liquid from drying out
  • Observe the effects on the coins after an hour
  • Observe the effects on the coins after 2 hours and so forth

What happens to the colours of the coins? Do they change again? How is the colour change different from the first experiment? Can you describe what you see on the coins now?

What has happened?

The coins have developed what is called a patina on the surface of the coin. The patina has developed as a result of oxidisation with the liquids that we used. The patina is a green colour and actually is formed on the surface of the copper in order to protect it from any more oxidisation occurring. The patina has no effect on the coins.