Metal Chemistry Experiment

Metal Chemistry Experiment

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Metal Chemistry Experiment


My aim is to plan and carry out an investigation that will enable me
to put 5 metals in order of reactivity. The 5 metals are zinc,
magnesium, copper, iron and calcium. I am also provided with Copper
(II) Sulphate solution.


Zinc, magnesium, copper, iron, calcium, 500 cm3 CuSO4, Polystyrene cup
with lid, thermometer, measuring cylinder, stop watch, spatula and
safety specs.


In the experiment I am using substances that are irritant and harmful.
Throughout the experiment I will wear safety specs. I will make sure
the chairs are kept in and all loose objects are not around. I will
work carefully with the chemicals, so I do not spill any.


After making sure everything is safe, I will first start the
experiment with zinc. I will measure out 25 cm3 of CuSO4 in a
measuring tube. Then I will put it into a polystyrene cup with the
lid. I will insert a thermometer through the lid of the cup until it
touches the liquid. Then I will take one spatula of zinc. Before I put
it into the cup I will take the starting temperature of CuSO4. I will
write that down on a table already made. Then I will put the zinc into
the cup, close the lid and start the timer. I will mix the solution by
shaking the cup to increase the surface area.

If I increase the surface area the rate of reaction increases because
there is more chance the particles will react, as there is more
surface area. This will speed up the experiment.



Every 30 seconds I will take the reading of the temperature. After 2
and ½ minutes I will stop the timer. Then I will empty the solution
into the sink and wash the cup and the thermometer. I will do this two
times for zinc, so that I have an average of results. This experiment
will be carried out with all the metals, a total of 15 experiments.

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Fair Test

To make sure this will be a fair test, I will only change one
variable, that is the metal. This is the independent variable. All the
other variables will stay the same like the room temperature, the
volume of CuSO4, the concentration of the CuSO4, the time taken to
complete the experiment etc. These are the controlled variables.

It would be ideal in the experiment to have all the metals to be in
powder form. This will increase the surface area and they will all be
the same. Unfortunately I have to make do with the resources I have
and the metals will be in different forms.

To improve the test I could measure out the metals so they all have
the same amount of particles. Weighing the metals out equally does not
give the same amount of particles. For e.g. the Relative Atomic Mass
(R.A.M.) of Iron is 56 and Copper is 63. To solve this I can use the
concept of moles by Amedio Avogardo. He said that 1 mole of any
substance contains 6x1023 particles. So if Iron has a R.A.M. of 56 and
is 1 mole and Copper has a R.A.M. of 63 and is 1 mole, then weighing
out 56g of Iron and 63g of Copper will give the same amount of
particles. Using this method would ensure a fair test but is time
consuming and I do not have mush time to carry out the investigation.

To make sure I have the same concentration of CuSO4, I will use the
same source of CuSO4. When reading the results of the measuring
cylinder I will always read the bottom of the readings so there is
less error.

I am going to do the experiment for the metal three times so I have an
average of results. This will improve the reliability because it will
even out the results I get.


I predict the order of reactivity will be calcium, magnesium, zinc,
iron and copper. I found this out be looking at the current reactivity
series already made in the text book. I can show this by writing out
the equation when calcium reacts with CuSO4.

Ca + CuSO4 → CaSO4 + Cu

Ca - 2e-→ Ca2+

Cu2+ + 2e-→ Cu

The copper's bond with the sulphate is broken. The calcium displaces
the copper and forms a bond with sulphate. In the textbook it says
that bond-breaking processes need energy and bond making processes
give out energy. As Calcium creates stronger bonds with sulphate it
will give out a lot of energy. This can be measured. Even though the
copper is breaking bonds and that needs energy, the calcium is forming
stronger bonds than the copper is breaking, so more heat is being
given out than taken in, so the reaction is exothermic.

I finally predict that the Calcium reaction will give out the most
energy and the Copper reaction will give out none because the copper
will not displace the copper in CuSO4.
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