SDR Lab Investigation: Creating an Activity Series of Metals

SDR Lab Investigation: Creating an Activity Series of Metals

SDR Lab Investigation: Creating an Activity Series of Metals



Date Performed:______

Date Due:______

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Metals share some properties, but they don’t always react according to a trend. In chemistry, the reactivity series (or activity series) is a list of metals, put in order of reactivity from highest (most reactive) to lowest (least reactive). The Metal Reactivity Series is used to determine the products of single displacement reactions in which a metal element replaces a metal cation (or H+) in a single displacement reaction.


The purpose of this lab is to react the metals copper, magnesium, iron and zinc with several solutions and then rank the metals from least reactive to most reactive.


Safety glasses
Spot plate(s) with 5x6 wells
Plastic pipettes / 5 pieces of copper wire
Granular magnesium
Granular iron
Granular zinc
1M HCl *DANGER* Corrosive!
0.1M copper(II)chloride
0.1M magnesium nitrate
0.1M iron(III)nitrate
0.1M zinc nitrate


All waste metals and solutions used in this lab should be disposed of in the METAL SALTS WASTE BUCKET. They are poisonous and cannot go down the drain.

Safety glasses must be worn at all times. HCl is corrosive and produces vapours that can get stuck behind contact lenses. If any solutions get in your eyes wash for 15 min in the eyewash station.


  1. Place your spot plates on a white sheet of paper and label them according to Table 1.
  2. Place a few grains of each type of metal in the appropriate well on the spot plate.
  3. Put a few drops of the appropriate solution on the piece of metal and look for any signs of a reaction happening (bubbles, change in colour, new substance formed).
  4. For each reaction, if a reaction occurs write “R” in Table 1. If no reaction occurs write “NR”.
  5. Dispose of all solutions and metals in the Metal Salts waste bucket. You may need to use a spray bottle to wash all of the chemicals into the bucket.
  6. Take all of your equipment to the front sink and wash with warm soapy water and a scrub brush and put them away.


Table 1: (11 marks, I)

CuCl2(aq) / Mg(NO3)2 (aq) / Fe(NO3)2 (aq) / Zn(NO3)2(aq) / HCl(aq)
  1. Which metal reacted with the most solutions? (1 mark, I)
  2. Which metal reacted with the fewest number of solutions? (1 mark, I)
  3. Rank the metals from most reactive to least reactive. (3 marks, I)

The Activity Series of Metals

Although most metals lose electrons in a chemical reaction they do not do it with the same speed and vigor. Metals react differently with different substances. The more easily a metal atom can lose its electron, the greater is its reactivity, and the more easily oxidized it is.The activity series (reactivity series) of metals organizes metals from the most reactive to the least reactive.


The higher the metal in the series, the more reactive it is. Metals at the bottom of the reactivity series like gold and platinum are unreactive even in very strong acids.

We can use the activity series to predict the products of single displacement reactions.
In general, an element that is higher in the activity series will displace an element that is lower.

Hydrogen is included in the series because, like metals, it can be oxidized to form positive ions.


Predict the products of the following single displacement reactions then balance the equations. (16 marks, I)

1. Zn + AgNO3 ---->

2. Al + H2SO4 ---->

3. Cl2 + KI ---->

4. Ag + KNO3 ---->

5. Cu + FeSO4 ---->

6. Na + H2O ---->

7. Fe + Pb(NO3)2 ---->

8. Pb + Pb(NO3)2 ---->

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  1. Compare your rankings from Part 1 to the Metal Reactivity Series in your Periodic Table Booklet. How do your lab results compare to the predictions made using the Metal Reactivity Series in your Periodic Table Booklet?

(1 mark, I)

  1. Use the Metal Reactivity Series in your Periodic Table Booklet to predict the products for the reactions you performed. If there is no reaction write NR.

Fe(s) + HCl (aq) 
Fe(s) + CuCl2(aq) 
Fe(s) + Mg(NO3)2(aq) 
Fe(s) + Fe(NO3)3(aq) 
Fe(s) + Zn(NO3)2(aq)  / (7 marks,I)
Mg(s) + HCl (aq) 
Mg(s) + CuCl2(aq) 
Mg(s) + Mg(NO3)2(aq) 
Mg(s) + Fe(NO3)3(aq) 
Mg(s) + Zn(NO3)2(aq)  / (10 marks,I)
Cu(s) + HCl (aq) 
Cu(s) + CuCl2(aq) 
Cu(s) + Mg(NO3)2(aq) 
Cu(s) + Fe(NO3)3(aq) 
Cu(s) + Zn(NO3)2(aq)  / (5 marks,I)
Zn(s) + HCl (aq) 
Zn (s) + CuCl2(aq) 
Zn (s) + Mg(NO3)2(aq) 
Zn (s) + Fe(NO3)3(aq) 
Zn (s) + Zn(NO3)2(aq)  / (8 marks,I)
  1. a) Give 3 examples of reactions where a metal reacts with water. (6 marks,I)

b) What gas is produced? (1 mark, I)

c) What gas test would you do to prove the presence of this gas? What would you observe?

(2 marks,I)



Predict the products of the following single displacement reactions then balance the equations. (8 marks)

1. Zn + 3AgNO3 ----> 3Ag + Zn(NO3)3

2. 2Al + 3H2SO4 ---->3 H2 + Al2(SO4)3

3. Cl2 +2 KI ----> I2 + 2KCl

4. Ag + KNO3 ----> NR

5. Cu + FeSO4 ----> NR

6. 2Na + H2O ----> H2 + Na2O

7. Fe + Pb(NO3)2 ----> Pb + Fe(NO3)2

8. Pb + Pb(NO3)2 ----> NR