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The reactivity series.

Extracts from this document...


Beckie Finch

Chemistry Coursework

The reactivity series is a chart showing the order that metals react with other substances. This reactivity series was determined by carrying out experiments to see how each metal reacts. The reactions are done with air, water and dilute acid.

The reactivity series:

Potassium (k)

Sodium (Na)

Calcium (Cl)

Magnesium (Mg)

Aluminum (Al)


Zinc (Zn)

Iron (Fe)

Lead (Pb)


Copper (Cu)

Silver (Ag)

Gold (Au)

Platinum (Pt)

Metals extracted by electrolysis.

Metals extracted by using reduction with carbon (carbon monoxide)

These metals don’t react with water or acid.

Exothermic and Endothermic reactions:

In an exothermic reaction heat is given OUT. An exothermic reaction is one which gives out energy to the surroundings, usually in the form of heat and usually shown by a rise in temperature. For example burning fuels obviously gives out heat making it exothermic.

        In an endothermic reaction heat is taken IN. An endothermic reaction is one which takes in energy from the surroundings, usually in the form of heat and usually shown in a fall of temperature. For example dissolving certain salts in water.

During a chemical reaction old bonds are broken and new ones are made.

Energy must be supplied to break bonds so this is an ENDOTHERMIC process.


  Energy released

        Na                   Cl                                                              Na                +          Climage13.png

...read more.


Type of solution-using a different solution could make the reactions stronger or weaker.Type of metal-using different types of metals could show more results.Different concentration of solution (stronger/weaker) Whether it is stirred- could change the speed of the reaction


I think that given the information I know I would guess that magnesium would let out the most thermal energy because it is the most reactive metal I am experimenting with. The higher the metal in the reactivity series the higher the amount of thermal energy given out.



A 50th of a mole of magnesium, iron, lead and zinc was measured out. The temperature of the copper sulphate was taken before any experiments were started. Then 10cm3 of solution was put into 3 different test tubes and the metals were added. The concentrations were stirred and a thermometer was placed in each test tube and the highest temperature was taken and recorded. The experiment was repeated 2 more times so an average could be taken for accuracy.

Fair Test

To make sure that the experiments done are fair these things need to be taken into consideration:

  • Same amount of moles of metal.
  • Same amount of concentration of copper sulphate.
  • Same amount of times stirred.
  • Same concentration (copper sulphate).
  • Same metals (zinc, magnesium, iron and lead)
...read more.


Mass of Pb   = 4.14g × 10g (mass of the copper sulphate) = 41.4g

Mass of Zn   = 1.3g  × 10g (mass of the copper sulphate)  = 13.0g

Mass of Fe   = 1.12g × 10g (mass of the copper sulphate)  = 11.2g

                    ∆Q = m × Cp × ∆T

Mg = 10.48g × 4.2 × 63ºc

Pb = 14.14g × 4.2 × 2ºc

Zn = 11.3g × 4.2 × 12ºc

Fe = 11.12g × 4.2 × 34ºc


       Q (J)










When doing my test there were some things that went wrong. When I poured in my metals, because I had already put the copper sulphate in the boiling tubes the metals stuck to the side, which may have ruined my results. If all of the metal was included in the experiment then a higher reading may have been taken. If I were to do this test again I would use a funnel to put the metals inside the boiling tubes or use bigger boiling tubes.

The boiling tubes lose heat through the glass. To make it a fairer test next time I should use polystyrene or cotton wool to wrap around the test tube this way not much heat should escape.

When doing my experiments I only repeated the tests 3 times to get a reading it would be better if I had dine the experiment about 5 times then I would have been able to get more of a accurate result.

Luckily when I did my tests I didn’t get any odd results. All of my results were about the same the only difference was a few degrees.

...read more.

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