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This science project was performed to compare the reactivity of different types of metal. The experiment involved comparing copper, zinc, magnesium, iron, lead and silver.


More reactive metals will displace the salt compound attached to less reactive metals.

Scientific Terms

Displacement reaction, oxidized, reduced, reactive element, corrode


Displacement in metal

The displacement reaction is a chemical process whereby a compound or salt moves from a less reactive element to a more reactive element. Therefore the more reactive element will be oxidized while the less reactive element is said to be reduced.

As an example, assume that P and Q are different elements and that element P is more reactive than element Q. Let's say that element Q combines with another compound Z, and we call this element QZ. When elements P and QZ combine or mix, compound Z will "move away" from element Q and combine with element P instead, since P is the more reactive element. Therefore element P becomes oxidized and element Q gets reduced.

P + QZ à PZ + Q

The order for the reactivity of metals is as follows:

K > Ba > Ca > Na > Mg > Al > Mn > Zn > Fe > Ni > Sn > Pb > Cu > Ag

The elements on the left side are more reactive and therefore part more readily with their electrons. These elements will also rust or corrode more easily and once they combine with compounds, it is harder to re-extract the element. They act as good reducing agents that serve to removecompounds from other less reactive elements.

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Complexity level:
Project cost ($):
Time required:
It will take an hour to set up the experiment, and an hour to conduct it
Material availability:
Access to a chemistry lab required
Safety concerns:

Basic safety requirements.