A pencil eraser works by scratching and tugging at graphite particles until they loosen and eventually fall off a piece of paper. Instead of erasing graphite off a page, we can scratch the ugly patina—the covering caused by long-term exposure to oxygen and other elements—from a the surface of a penny.
Out of your pennies, try to find the dirtiest, ugliest, greenest one. We had a few fitting this description in our piggy bank...
For your first attempt to shine up a penny, take a small piece of paper towel and dampen it slightly with water.
With as much effort as you can, try for a few seconds to polish the penny with the paper towel. You'll probably find that not much is happening. This is because the green coating on your pennies isn't just on the surface, but is actually part of the penny itself. To remove this layer, we're going to have to use something abrasive to scratch off this microscopic layer and polish the penny.
Now, take the pencil and, using some "elbow grease," try to use its eraser to scratch off the patina covering the penny. This time, if you put a bit of effort into it, you should see your penny slowly starting to become shinier.
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