Aluminum Project - Soda Cans and Soup Cans
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Soda Cans and Soup Cans

Aluminum can

You can see for yourself how aluminum is different from steel by comparing an empty aluminum can (a soda can) to an empty steel can (most canned food, like canned soup or tuna or ravioli).

First, check out whether your can is really made of steel. If it is, magnets should stick to it. Is your soda can really aluminum? Then magnets won't stick to it.

soup can

Now, investigate the differences. Which can is heavier? Can you get either can to rust? Which can is easier to dent or squash? Which is easier to scratch with a fork?

People use both aluminum and steel for cooking pots, because both metals will conduct heat from the burner to the food. Try touching them to a burner on the stove (with help from an adult!). Which one conducts heat better/faster?

Don't forget to recycle both cans at the end of your experiment.

More about aluminum atoms
More chemistry projects

Bibliography and further reading:

Aluminum
Atoms
Chemistry
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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