The Dirty Penny Experiment and The Young Scientist Challenge!


A special thank you goes out to Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge and The MOMS for sponsoring and inspiring this post. Opinions expressed are that of my own.

The Dirty Penny Science Experiment

I want science to be fun for my kids and I love their inquisitive nature to ask why and I wonder what would happen if…?

As a parent, I appreciate the importance of STEM in schools and recently my 10 year old son shared that they had experimented with Dirty Pennies to see which substances would remove the grim the fastest. I thought it would be neat to let him do a similar test at home and we set up the The Dirty Penny Experiment.

What you need for the Dirty Penny Experiment

To create our kid safe lab, we first needed:

  • 5 Plastic Cups
  • 5 Dirty Pennies
  • Permanent Marker
  • Measuring Cup
  • Cola
  • Lemon Lime Soda
  • Orange Juice
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Water
  • Pencil
  • PaperDirty Penny Experiment


To get started with our experiment, my son first labeled the cups numbered 1-5. He then poured a 1/4 cup of each substance in separate cups. I then wrote down the liquids next to the numbers on a piece of paper. Each of these had an acidic element to them, and water as the control.

He then dropped the pennies into each cup and I asked him, “Which substance do you do think will clean the penny the fastest.” He hypothesized it would be the Lemon Lime Soda. We then set the alarm for an hour to check them.

Clean Penny from the Dirty Penny Experiment

We did this again in another 3 hours, when he got up in the morning, as well as 24 hours from the time we originally started. Each time, we recorded our results and also removed the pennies as they became clean.

Once we finished, I asked my son how this could be applied to real life solutions and he said something along the lines of, “If we can drink these, maybe they could be made into safe cleaning products for kids.” I like the way he is thinking!

Want to know the results of what cleaned the best? I have to admit that I was surprised, but you will have to try this at home to find out! 🙂

Young Scientist Challenge

Your Child Could WIN $25,000 and earn the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist!

Discovery Education and 3M want to encourage children to think scientifically as well and cultivate the next generation of problem solvers and because of this they formed the Young Scientist Challenge in 2008.

The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge is the nation’s premier science competition for grades 5-8. It’s mission is to foster a new generation of American scientists at an age when interest in science generally declines. To participate, your child can currently submit entries through April, 20, 2016.

Each participant must create a one-to-two-minute video describing the science behind a new innovation or solution that could solve or impact an everyday problem. The Judges then evaluate the entries based on creativity, scientific knowledge, persuasiveness and overall presentation. Videos will not be judged on production skills and may be recorded on cell phones or basic digital cameras.

Discovery Education and 3M Young Scientist Challenge

What are some of your favorite experiments to perform at home with your kids? Any interesting results?

As the competition continues, ten (10) finalists will be announced over the summer and will be challenged to develop their innovations that positively impacts lives (including them, their family, their community or the global population). In addition, they will participate in a mentorship program with renowned 3M scientists and receive a trip to the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minn., to compete at the final event in October 2016.

The winner of this challenge will receive $25,000, and earn the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist. Visit for more details!

I hope our little experiment sparks some fun at home and good luck to your child in the Young Scientist Challenge!

Carlee @ LAAF

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