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Reactivity Series Experiment

Investigating Single Displacement Reactions


VINAYAK

PURPOSE
To observe the reaction of Zinc and Copper (II) Sulphate solutions with both Magnesium metals and Steel Wool and conclude if the reactions occur based upon the hierarchy of elements on the Reactivity Series of Metals.

HYPOTHESIS
I predict that if the single elements that are added are higher on the Reactivity Series of Metals, they will replace the lower ranked metal. If not, then no reaction. To specify: The Magnesium will replace Zinc in the Zinc Sulphate solution create a precipitate. The Magnesium will replace the Copper in the Copper (II) Sulphate solution and create a precipitate. The Iron in the Steel Wool will not replace the Zinc in the Zinc Sulphate solution. The Iron in the Steel Wool will replace the Copper in the Copper (II) Sulphate solution and create a precipitate.

MATERIALS
Items Safety Goggles Tongs Test Tube(s) 50 mL Beakers Magnesium Metal (strips) Steel Wool Zinc Sulphate solution Copper (II) Sulphate solution Quantity Varies Varies 2 2 2 2 2x 2x Measurement For safety For safety (hold test tubes) -/-/2 10 cm A few strings 5mL 20mL 5mL 20mL

PROCEDURE
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. Come to school on the day the experiment is to be performed. Enter the classroom and greet your teacher and classmates. Gather all the materials needed to perform this experiment. Ensure that the safety goggle is snug to your face and doesnt slip off easily. Obtain the Zinc sulphate solution and pour 15mL inside one of the test tubes. Place it on the Test tube rack using the Tongs. Pour the remaining into the 50mL beaker and place it aside for later use. Take the Copper (II) sulphate solution and pour about 15mL into the second test tube. Place it on the Test tube rack using the Tongs. Pour the remaining into the 50mL beaker and place it aside for later use. Place the Steel wool strips beside the beakers for later use. Take one of the Magnesium strips and drop it into the Zinc sulphate solution. Record your observations and describe in details what occurred. Take the second Magnesium strip and drop it into the Copper (II) Sulphate solution. Record your observations and describe in details what occurred. Set the test tube rack aside. Bring forward the beakers and the Steel wool. Take a few strings of the Steel wool and drop it into the Zinc sulphate solution. Record your observations and describe in detail what occurred. Take the remaining strings of the Steel wool and drop it into the Copper (II) Sulphate solution. Record your observations and describe in detail what occurred. If working with a partner, compare your observations. Write a conclusion based upon whether or not the experiments supported or failed to support the Hypothesis. If does not support, then re-perform the experiment again or change the Hypothesis. Hand completed report to the teacher.

OBSERVATION
Before Experiment: Characteristics Magnesium strip Colour Grey Texture Metallic texture Odour Metallic Viscosity None Visibility Opaque During Experiment: Reactions Mg(s) + ZnSO4(aq) Bubbles Very few Exothermic No Light No Precipitation Yes; little Change of colour Yes; little darker Change of odour Other (please state) No See bottom Steel Wool Grey/metallic Rough to touch Metallic None Opaque Zinc sulphate Yellow-golden Liquid None Similar to water Translucent Copper (II) Sulphate Turquoise Liquid Rubbery Similar to water Translucent

Mg(s) + CuSO4 Yes No No Yes; significant Yes; little darker Smelt rubbery See bottom

Fe(III)(s)+ZnSO4(aq) None No No No No No None

Fe(III)(s)+CuSO4(aq) None No No No Yes; iron became a coppercolour Smelt rubbery None

Observations (written w/ chemical & balanced equation): Mg + ZnSO4 Mg(s) + ZnSO4(aq) MgSO4(aq) + Zn(s) After a few minutes of the reaction process undergone, and upon removal of the aqueous solution, the magnesium strip had a few yellow-brown-gold spots upon it. This may be because of the displacement that occurs between the Magnesium from the metal with the Zinc in the Zinc sulphate solution. WHY does this reaction happen? From the beginning of times, all atoms have wanted to be like the Noble Gasesand Magnesium is one of them. Magnesium is more reactive than Zinc because of Magnesiums tendency to form ions. Magnesium, firstly, has only two electrons in its outermost shell. These two electrons fit into the subshell that can only contain two electrons (the s sub-shell). The addition of more electrons would make this atom unstable because those additional electrons would not be paired and be compelled to bond with the nearest atom or expel that electron releasing some energy. In order for the Magnesium atom to share a strong bond with another atom, it must give away its two electrons which will make it a positive ion and the receiver a negative ion. The ionic bond between them will be strong. In addition, the Magnesium wants to lose its outermost (two) electron to become more like Neon. In order to do that, it has to combine with one or more negatively charged atoms. The Zinc already has a full shell with no space left between its sub-shells due to a complete d sub-shell. The Zinc atom is not obligated to stick to Sulphate to be stable and happily lets go to let Magnesium bond with it. This is the reason why Magnesium replaces Zinc when Magnesium is placed in a Zinc Sulphate solution.

Magnesium in Copper (II) sulphate solution

Magnesium in Zinc sulphate solution

Mg + CuSO4

Mg(s) + CuSO4(aq) MgSO4(aq) + Cu(s)


After a few minutes of the reaction occurring, and upon removal of the aqueous solution, the magnesium strip has a few spots that were blue-turquoise in colour. This may be because the Sulphate ions may have attached themselves upon the Magnesium strip and leave a distinct turquoise colour on a greyish-black background. WHY does this reaction happen? See above for answer. The only difference is that instead of Zinc, the atom that is replaced is Copper. The Copper already has a full d shell with ten electrons; HOWEVER, it only has 1 electron in its outermost s sub-shell. This means that in order for the Copper atom to become stable, it must lose that electron into the aqueous solution. The loss of this electron would mean that Electricity would flow through this solution at a faster rate or more easily than in the aqueous solution of the above experiment.

See picture above

Fe(III)+ZnSO4

Fe(III)(s) + ZnSO4(aq) No Reaction

Fe(III)+CuSO4 Fe(III)(s) + CuSO4(aq) Fe(SO4)(aq) + Cu(s) After a few minutes of leaving this mixture idle and letting the reactions happen, the entire bunch of the Steel Wool changed colour to a sortof copperish-colour. This may be because of the Iron from the Steel Wool replaces the Copper from the aqueous solution. As the copper builds upon the Iron of the Steel wool, the colour changes to that of the copper. WHY does this reaction happen? Similar to what Magnesium does when it reacts with Zinc sulphate, Iron (III) replaces the Copper in the solution. Iron (III) expels one of its electrons into the solution. Since Iron (III) is now slightly positive, it is not attracted to the Sulphate ion which is negative after it has separated with Copper.

CONCLUSION
Based on the explanation above as to why Magnesium replaces both Copper and Zinc in a sulphate solution and why Iron only replaces Copper and not Zinc, a conclusion can be reached. This proves that Magnesium is more reactive than Zinc and Copper and Iron is more reactive than Copper but less reactive than Zinc. Further Questions to Pursue: 1) Why does Column 11 on the Periodic Table have their d sub-shells filled but their outermost shell only has 1 electron (Copper, Silver, and Gold)? 2) How is Gold more stable than Silver if Gold is a multivalent metal?

A Fancy Bar Graph


120% 100% 97% Satisfactory Rate(%) 80% 60% 59% 40% 35% 20% 16% 0% Mg + ZnSO4 Mg + CuSO4 Fe + ZnSO4 Fe + CuSO4 Experiments 55% 95% 91% 88% How much FUN I thought each experiment would be How much FUN it actually was