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Not All That Glitters is Gold: Grades 8D & 9D "gild" a copper coin

by Lea Biesenthal

Once upon a time, there was a king in whose kingdom there was neither silver nor gold, only copper. The king found this outrageous and ordered the alchemist to produce silver and gold. With this task, we entered the chemistry class after the holidays. Bunsen burner on, and off we went. First, the copper coin received a zinc layer with the help of potassium hydroxide, making it look "silver." Then, the coin was heated in the burner flame until it appeared completely "gilded." There was quite a bit of astonishment.

Proudly displaying the "gold coin" on the table, we explained the process of creating alloys – in this case, brass. Unfortunately, no gold, but we decided to keep the coin anyway!


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