Penny Cleaning Experiment–Remembering to Let Learning Happen

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We took advantage of the beautiful weather outside last week to do a science experiment on the deck.  I had chosen the penny experiment from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas that I found on Pinterest.

I sent the girls to hunt around the house for pennies while I gathered our other supplies.  We met up on the deck.

I first had the girls count their pennies in to piles of ten, having them choose their dirtiest ones.  We had a two year old with us so the piles of pennies soon got demolished.  It wasn’t really a big deal how many pennies were in each pile anyway, I was just giving them something to do while I got set up.

We added our ingredients to each bowl. The first with water only, the second with soap and water  and the third with vinegar and salt. 

We made predictions about what would happen in each bowl and which would clean the pennies best. 

We dumped our pennies in and since they needed to do SOMETHING each girl got spoon and were in charge of stirring one bowl.

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Luca immediately wanted to add more things to her bowl, more salt, some vinegar, water, anything.  I held her off explaining that we wouldn’t know which worked best if we added more or different ingredients. 

Nollie understood this concept but wanted to see what would happen with all things together, water, vinegar, salt, and soap, so we got a new container to try that out too.

Soon Luca could no longer contain herself and was switching bowls with the other girls and then dumping hers and Waverly’s together, added more dish soap and was trying to get ahold of the salt and vinegar.

Luckily we could see pretty quickly what was happening, the pennies in the  salt/vinegar and even Nollie’s everything mix were getting cleaner than just water or water and soap.

We had a quick chat about the experiment and which solution worked best and then I took the materials inside, before the whole box of salt was dumped or any more soap was squirted.  I told the girls they were free to muck around and play with what was left while I got lunch ready.  They were so excited, “We can mess around!”

Isn’t that what science is  all about, testing their own hypothesis.  Trying things out themselves, answering their own questions about how the world around them works?  Not just following an experiment exactly out of a book. Sometimes its easy to get caught up in doing what was planned for the day and forget that one of the reasons I chose homeschooling is to keep the love of learning alive.  Besides, if the whole box of salt did get dumped I’d only be down a couple bucks, not much compared to the joy in learning.  Thankfully, I was relaxed enough and didn’t get upset that it didn’t go exactly as planned.   In turn the girls stayed interested and had lots of fun. 


As we were cleaning up, we dumped all of the liquid into a large jug.  The girls thought it looked like bubble solution, they had to test it out… so I brought out the bubble blowers.

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