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Cheap Kitchen Science: Dirty Penny Experiment

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Have a few dirty pennies lying around? Try this simple kitchen science experiment with your kiddos.  It's cheap and you already have everything you need!

preschool science experiment

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Explain to your child that you haven't lost your marbles, but you are going to cover dirty pennies with various liquids and see what happens!  In this simple kitchen science experiment you are going to attempt to clean the pennies and make them shiny again!

What you need:
  • Muffin Tin
  • Dirty Pennies
  • Different kinds of liquids

Simple Kitchen Science Experiment


Gather several pennies that are dirty and put one in each muffin tin.

preschool science experiment

Next, cover each penny with a liquid/ condiment.  We chose olive oil, ranch dressing, soda, water, apple cider vinegar, and mustard.

Ask your child what he/she thinks will happen.  Tell him/her that you are attempting to clean off the dirt that has build up over the penny to make it shiny again.  Which one does your child think will clean the dirty penny?

preschool science experiment

Let the pennies sit overnight and check back in the morning to see what happened!  Rinse the pennies off with water and observe the changes!

Ask, which one looks clean and shiny now?

preschool science experiment

I didn't get into the science behind the dirty penny experiment, but my preschooler was quite amazed that we were able to clean a few of the pennies a little bit!

But just in case you are wondering how some the pennies became shiny again, it was because of the acid in the vinegar, mustard, and ranch were strong enough to eat away the dirt!

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