Corrosion and Rusting Lab Activities

Corrosion and Rusting Lab Activities - FB 3

Freebie Physical Science Lab Activities

PART 1: Corrosion – Investigating Rusting

When metals are exposed to the environment, they can deteriorate or break down. This process is called corrosion and is very costly to industry, if not prevented. Rust is a type of corrosion in which iron reacts with its environment to produce hydrated iron oxide, a powdery reddish-orange solid substance which has different chemical properties to the original iron metal.

Anchor Corrosion and Rusting

Iron + Oxygen + Water -> Hydrated Iron Oxide

This lab explores the conditions needed for rusting to occur and will be undertaken over several days.

Corrosion and Rusting Lab Activities – Investigating Rusting Learning Objectives:

  • Investigate the factors which lead to rusting.

NGSS Standards Covered

  • MS-PS1-2 Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.

I Can Statement

Describe how corrosion and rusting differ, outline the factors which cause rusting, and how this chemical process can be prevented.

Corrosion and Rusting Vocabulary

  • Corrosion
  • Electroplating
  • Galvanizing
  • Oxidation
  • Rusting
  • Sacrificial Metal

Download These Lab Sheets for Your Students:

Corrosion and Rusting Lab Activities – Investigating Rusting Materials:

  • Iron nails x 5
  • Cooking oil
  • Calcium chloride
  • Salt (sodium chloride)
  • Spatula x 2
  • Test tubes x 5
  • Test tube rack
  • Stopper x 1
  • Dropper/pipette
  • Boiled water
  • Tap water
  • Measuring cylinder
  • Marker pen

Corrosion and Rusting Lab Activities – Investigating Rusting Lab Procedures:

Safety Notes:

Calcium chloride is an irritant use safety glasses during this lab.

Method:

  1. Label the test-tubes A-E and place in test tube rack.
  2. Fill the test tubes as follows:
    1. Leave empty
    2. 20 ml tap water
    3. Salt water (20 ml tap water + 1 spatula-full of salt and shake until salt dissolves)
    4. 20ml boiled water
    5. 1 spatula-full calcium chloride
  3. Add an iron nail to each test tube.
  4. Place a 5mm layer of cooking oil into the top of test tube D using a pipette
  5. Seal test tube E with a bung.
  6. Leave the test tubes undisturbed for at least 4 days, observe and record any changes daily.

Corrosion and Rusting Lab Activity

Corrosion and Rusting Lab Activities – Investigating Rusting Observations:

Pre-Lab Questions:

  1. How is corrosion different to rusting?
  2. Write a hypothesis about which test tube(s) will show rusting.
  3. Give the chemical name for rust.
  4. Explain why this lab requires several days to carry out.
  5. Describe why rusting is such a problem for industries such as shipping and construction.

Results:

Corrosion and Rusting Lab Chart

Corrosion and Rusting Lab Activities – Investigating Rusting Post-lab Questions:

  1. Which test tubes showed the greatest amount of rusting?
  2. Did any test tubes develop rust sooner than others? If so, describe the conditions in these test tubes.
  3. What was the purpose of the calcium chloride powder and stopper in test tube E?
  4. What was the purpose of test tube A?
  5. Write a conclusion based on the conditions needed for iron to rust.

PART 2: Preventing Rust

Iron is relatively inexpensive when compared to other metals and is therefore used in many industries. Without proper prevention techniques in place, the long-term cost of using iron can be high due to having to repeatedly replacing iron-based structures due to rusting. Some ways that rust can be prevented include:

Preventing Rust Lab Activity

This lab explores ways that rusting can be prevented. It will be undertaken over several lessons to observe the effects of these mechanisms.

Preventing Rust Learning Objectives:

  • Investigate ways that rusting can be prevented.

Download These Lab Sheets for Your Students:

Preventing Rust Materials:

  • Iron nails
  • Zinc pellets or magnesium ribbon
  • Petroleum gel (e.g., Vaseline)
  • Nail polish/paint
  • Tap water
  • Safety glasses
  • Test tubes and rack
  • Spatula
  • Marker pen

Preventing Rust Lab Procedures:

Safety Notes:

Calcium chloride is an irritant use safety glasses during this lab.

Method:

  1. Label the test tubes A-D and place in the test tube rack.
  2. Fill each test tube with an equal volume of water, enough to cover the iron nail.
  3. Place one iron nail in each of the test tubes after treating as follows:
    1. No treatment
    2. Cover nail in petroleum gel (Vaseline).
    3. Paint nail with nail polish or paint and allow to dry.
    4. Either add 1 spatula-full of zinc pellets to the test tube or coil a strip of magnesium ribbon around the nail.
  4. Leave the test tubes undisturbed for at least four days. Record any changes to the nails daily.

Preventing Rust Observations:

Pre-Lab Questions:

  1. Name the main product formed when iron reacts with oxygen and water.
  2. Write a hypothesis about which treatment you think will be most effective at preventing rust in the iron nails.

Results:

Preventing Rust Lab Chart

Preventing Rust Post-lab Questions:

  1. Which of the treatments were most effective?
  2. Explain the purpose of the nail in test tube A.
  3. The treatment in test tube D did not require a complete barrier to work effectively. Explain how this method of rust prevention works.

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