Reactivity of Metals Lab Name______________________ date

Reactivity of Metals Lab
Physical Science – Frisby
Name______________________ date_______
In some chemical reactions, an element switches places with another element and makes
a new compound. A reaction in which one element takes the place of another element as
part of a compound, is called a single replacement reaction. The general equation for a
single replacement reaction is:
A + BC  AC + B
Here is an example of a single replacement reaction: silver nitrate solution has a piece of
copper placed into it. The solution begins to turn blue and the copper seems to disappear.
Instead, a silvery-white material appears.
2 AgNO3 + Cu  Cu(NO3)2 + 2 Ag
This reaction is not reversible. Silver (Ag) is less reactive than copper (Cu) and cannot
replace copper in copper (II) nitrate:
Cu(NO3)2 + 2 Ag  no reaction
Metals can be listed in a series in which each metal will replace all the metals below it on
the list, but none of the metals above it. Such list is commonly called an activity series.
Copper (Cu) is above silver (Ag) in the activity series. The activity series for metals is
determined by experiments in which pairs of metals are compared for reactivity.
You will have to arrange copper (Cu), magnesium (Mg), and iron (Fe) in the activity
series from most reactive to least reactive.
You will have to assign copper (Cu),
magnesium (Mg), and iron (Fe) in the activity
series #1, 2, and 3 from most reactive at the top
to least reactive on the bottom.
Problem/Question: Where do copper,
magnesium, and iron fall on the activity series?
Pre-lab question:
What are some ways that you might be able to determine if a chemical reaction is taking
Purpose: Why are you doing this experiment?
Hypothesis: What is your best guess about what might occur when you run your
- elemental copper (Cu), magnesium (Mg) and iron (Fe)
- diluted solutions of hydrochloric acid (HCl), copper chloride (CuCl2), magnesium
chloride (MgCl2), iron chloride (FeCl3)
- well plate
- sheet of white paper to keep track of which metals to mix with which solutions
1. Use the chart on the following page as a guide to help you to make a labeled chart of
“metal + solution” for each of the wells on your well plate on your white paper to place
underneath the well plate. You should label each of the wells you are using with one
metal and one solution, following the given chart exactly. Do not put any metal or
solution where there are X’s. There should be 9 labels. Ex. “Cu + HCl”
2. Using your chart as a guide, place 3-4 copper pellets in each of the 3 copper wells.
Place a tiny strip of magnesium in each of the magnesium wells, and place a small pinch
of iron filings in each of the iron wells. Only place one type of metal in a well. Make
sure that you are following your labels and be careful not to drip solutions into
neighboring wells!
a) Add enough HCl to cover the copper in the first well. Write your observations.
b) Cover the copper in the 3rd well with MgCl2. Write your observations.
c) Cover the copper in the 4th well with FeCl3. Write your observations.
4. Repeat steps 3 using magnesium in clean wells on the spot plate. Write your
5. Repeat steps 3 using iron in clean wells on the spot plate. Write your observations.
6. Record any signs of chemical change that you observe in each of the wells. Possible
changes could include changes in color, the formation of gas, the formation of a
precipitate, etc.
7. When you have completed observing all of your reactions, bring your well plate over
to the counter area next to the sink. DO NOT DUMP ANYTHING IN THE SINK!
Well Plate Guide
Cu + HCl
Cu + MgCl₂
Cu + FeCl₃
Mg + HCl
Mg + CuCl₂
Mg + FeCl₃
Fe + HCl
Fe + CuCl₂
Fe + MgCl₂
Data Table, Analysis, and Conclusions:
1. Which of the metals reacted with the most compounds?
2. Which reached with the fewest compounds?
Extra credit: write down equations for the chemical reactions you observed.
3. List the metals you tested from most reactive to least reactive and then label them on
the reactivity series on the front page of this lab.
4. Which of the metals you tested were able to replace the hydrogen in HCl?
5. Where would hydrogen, as in acid, be placed in the activity series you listed? Why?
6. Why did you not combine Mg with MgCl2, Cu with CuCl2, or Fe with FeCl3 in this
7. Would you expect to observe a single-replacement reaction if you combined a
solution of calcium chloride (CaCl2) with zinc (Zn)? Why or why not?